Please be aware that this chapter talks about sexual abuse. If that is a trigger for you, you may want to skip it.
This chapter was a hard one to write. I had an idea of where I wanted to go with Anni's backstory, but in the end, it wrote itself. Jasmin's story is widely known amongst the fandom, and is as hard to write as it is to watch. I hope I did both of them justice.
I may be taking some time away from this story. I need to finish my novel, and this chapter really hit me hard. But I will be back! We need to get these girls to the altar! Don't forget, this is my version, and not intended to follow what's going on on the show.
Believe in happy endings. )
“What do you mean?” Anni whispered. There was so much sorrow filling the air, she felt she couldn’t catch her breath. She didn’t understand it. And, when she didn’t understand things, she had a tendency to become belligerent. That’s not what Jasmin needed now, and Anni fought to keep her emotions in check.
“I mean,” Jasmin began, just as quiet. “I wasn’t trying to hurt you. I thought you had already moved on. I was dying inside, Anni.” She stopped. Was this really a conversation to be had in a car, on the way to possibly say goodbye to Anni’s father? Then Jasmin thought of how open Anni had just been with her. It was more than she had ever expected, or even hoped for. But to get to the point where Anni would understand what she meant, she had to tell everything. “Did you know that I used to . . . ” she swallowed, hesitant to actually say the words out loud to someone she wanted to be perfect for.
“Used to what, Jasmin?” Anni asked after several silent moments.
“Cut,” she managed finally. When Anni’s eyebrows furrowed, she clarified, “Myself.”
Anni sucked in a sharp breath, swerving a little when she turned to look at Jasmin. She fought to find something to say to that, but what do you say to someone you love who just told you they used to hurt themselves? “Why?” she whispered.
Jasmin shrugged even though she knew Anni wasn’t looking at her. How do you explain something like that? Especially to someone who didn’t understand your past? She took a deep breath, holding it for a moment, then letting it out in a steady stream. “You know there’s something in my past.”
Anni nodded slightly, alternating looking at Jasmin and watching the road. She was torn. Part of her wanted to pull over, take Jasmin in her arms, and give Jasmin her full attention. She just didn’t know if that would be accepted by Jasmin at the moment.
“We haven’t talked about it,” Jasmin continued, looking out the passenger window. She hated this. Hated that it affected her. Hated what it had done to her, and how it made her feel about herself. Most of all, she hated that after all is said and done, Anni may not look at her the same. Even if Anni didn’t blame her, would there still be pity? “Mostly because I just want to forget.”
“What really happened, Jasmin?” Anni asked quietly. She wanted so much to hold Jasmin’s hand, but she still didn’t know what they were to each other anymore. I’m still her friend if nothing else, Anni thought. With a trembling hand, she reached for Jasmin’s, twining their fingers together. To her relief, Jasmin didn’t pull away. Her heart beat a little faster when she felt a faint squeeze.
“I didn’t know Katrin was my mother until a few years ago. At first, I thought she was my sister.” She risked a glance at Anni. Her brows were furrowed, but she remained quiet. “She had left when I was little, and then Child Protective Services came in and took me away from the person I thought was my mother. I was then adopted by the Nowaks.” Jasmin felt the bile rising in her throat, and slipped her hand away from Anni to grab a bottle of water.
Anni had felt the cool, clamminess of Jasmin’s hand before she pulled it away. Whatever was coming was going to be hard to hear. She couldn’t imagine how it was going to be for Jasmin to say.
“Take your time,” Anni encouraged softly. I should have known this stuff. I should have not been a damned coward about my feelings, and talked. “I’m listening, Jasmin.” And, after this, I’m not going to hold back from you anymore.
Jasmin took another long pull of water. Even though she was driving, Anni was being very attentive. Holding her hand, squeezing it every once in a while, rubbing her thumb across Jasmin’s hand in a loving manner. It was how Jasmin always hoped Anni would be when Jasmin told her story. She just wished it hadn’t taken a break up, an almost mistake with Kiara, and family tragedy to sit down and actually talk.
Jasmin sighed. “When I was fourteen, my foster father . . . ” her voice broke, and she felt Anni’s hand take hers again. She cleared her throat. “He began sexually abusing me.” Anni’s hand squeezed hard. It would have been painful if Jasmin weren’t already feeling the pain of the memory. “I won’t go into details. I can’t. But it only got worse when I got older. When I turned sixteen he raped me.”
“Jesus.” Anni couldn’t stand it anymore. She couldn’t just keep driving while Jasmin’s heart was bleeding. Anni craned her head, looking for a place to pull over.
“What are you doing?”
“Please don’t. I don’t know if I can keep going if you do,” she continued hastily at Anni’s sharp look. “I’ll break down, Anni, and I need to get this out. Plus, we need to get to your dad.”
Anni blew out a frustrated breath. “Can I at least pull over for a minute? I . . . ” Unfortunately, she thought about the tall woman in Jasmin’s shop, with her arms around Jasmin. It was Anni’s job to comfort her fiancé, not some stranger. “I just want to hold you. Just for a minute,” she pleaded.
Jasmin nodded mutely. The need in Anni’s voice matched the need in her heart. It had been so long since they’ve seen each other, much less touched. She didn’t know if her and Anni’s relationship was reparable, especially after what happened with Kiara, but she had hope.
Anni finally found a quiet, private place, and she pulled off the road. She was nervous. More than nervous, and that shocked her. She and Jasmin had been together for over a year, had been through so much. And, yet now it felt as though she didn’t really know the woman sitting next to her. Despite that, Anni’s love for Jasmin never wavered.
“Come here.” Anni awkwardly reached for Jasmin across the console. “This isn’t very comfortable is it,” she murmured once Jasmin was in her arms.
“Actually it comforts me quite a bit.” Jasmin smiled genuinely for the first time when Anni squeezed her.
“I had no idea.”
Anni’s breath caressed Jasmin’s ear, making her shiver. She had always wanted – needed – this kind of closeness with Anni. Although, she knew they still had a lot of things to talk about, namely Anni’s issues, this was like a soothing balm to Jasmin’s soul.
“You couldn’t have known. Not many do.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Anni.” Jasmin pulled away slightly. “We’ve never had these types of talks. It’s just not who we are.”
“Were,” Anni stated with certainty. “That may not have been who we were, but that changes now.” Though it hurt her heart to ask, she couldn’t help herself. “Does she know?”
Jasmin frowned in confusion. “Who? Katrin?”
“Kiara.” The name tasted sour coming from her mouth, and Anni fought the urge to grab the bottle of water to wash it away. When Jasmin lowered her eyes, Anni got her answer, and pulled away. “You told her.”
“Technically, she guessed,” Jasmin corrected softly. She hated that Anni was hurting because of something that happened out of anger and despair. “Anni, I love you. When I thought you were with someone else . . . ”
“I got it the first time. You went to Kiara to sleep with her,” Anni snapped. She knew in her heart she shouldn’t be acting this way, but it hurt. It hurt like hell to know that Jasmin could be with someone else.
“This is why we never talk, Anni.” Jasmin pulled even further away, turning to face the windshield. “You’re always so quick with an insult, or get so angry before letting me explain things to you.”
“How am I supposed to feel, Jasmin? I find you in that woman’s arms today, and then you tell me you almost slept with her!”
“Can you stop saying that, please! I know what happened, I was there! I’m the one she pushed away!” Jasmin’s eyes slammed shut. She hadn’t meant to say that, knowing it would only hurt Anni more.
“That’s the only reason you stopped?”
The agony in Anni’s voice ripped Jasmin’s heart out. “I was angry, Anni. I thought you were sleeping with someone else.” She took a breath. “She told me to tell her that I didn’t love you. I couldn’t. That’s what stopped me.”
Anni stared ahead, not saying anything. Just as Jasmin thought she wouldn’t say anything, she spoke. “I’m sorry.”
Jasmin couldn’t believe her ears. Anni rarely apologized, especially if she thought she was being wronged. And, even though they were broken up, Jasmin still felt she had wronged Anni.
“I have no right to get upset with you,” Anni continued, lifting a hand when Jasmin opened her mouth to argue. “I don’t. You broke up with me, and it was my fault. You’re an amazing woman. I shouldn’t be surprised that others would be lined up to be with you.”
“It wasn’t like that, Anni.” Still, Jasmin blushed a little at the compliment. She appreciated the fact that Anni was trying to understand, and take some of the responsibility for their problems. “I wasn’t looking for anything, and neither was she,” she said, opting not to say Kiara’s name again for Anni’s sake.
Anni nodded, still not really understanding. Perhaps if Jasmin finished what she needed to say, she would be able to comprehend everything better. “Will you tell me more about your past?” she asked, wincing inwardly when Jasmin’s eyes suddenly clouded with pain.
“Can we start driving again? You really need to get to your dad.” Anni nodded sadly, and Jasmin couldn’t help herself. She slipped a hand behind Anni’s neck and pulled her close. “No matter what happens, I’m here for you,” she whispered against Anni’s lips, then brushed them lightly with hers.
It was a chaste kiss, but Anni felt it deep in her soul. She needed to curb her jealousy. She could do that for Jasmin. She wanted - needed - to be the one Jasmin could turn to. Once they were both settled, Anni carefully pulled back onto the road.
Jasmin struggled to find a way to get back to a place mentally where she could continue talking about her hurtful past. She wished she could take the simple way out, but she owed it to herself, and to Anni, to finish.
“What did you do after he . . . hurt you,” Anni asked carefully, giving Jasmin a place to begin again. “Did you tell someone?”
“I ran away. I told child services that I wanted to go back to the person I thought was my mother.”
“Who was she really?”
“My grandmother. Katrin’s mother.”
Anni shook her head, mumbling something that sounded like ‘unbelievable’. Jasmin knew she wasn’t doubting her just that the story was hard to believe. Jasmin couldn’t argue. If it hadn’t happened to her, she would find it quite incredible.
“It wasn’t an ideal situation. My mo – grandmother drank a lot. But it was better than what I endured with my foster family. It’s during that time I learned how to be a seamstress.”
“That’s when you got into fashion?”
Jasmin nodded. “It kept my mind occupied. It wasn’t until after my grandmother died that I decided to move to Berlin.”
“And, got back in touch with Katrin?”
“Mmhmm. Who I thought was my sister.” Jasmin laughed a little, the sound having nothing to do with humor. “It’s so fucking ridiculous, isn’t it?”
Again, Anni reached for Jasmin’s hand. “It’s pretty crazy,” she agreed. “Can you tell me what you meant now about not wanting to hurt me? And, the cutting?” Anni loathed thinking about Jasmin hurting herself. She was such a beautiful soul, it was unfathomable that someone could hurt Jasmin. Including herself. Anni took a moment to recognize that she had hurt Jasmin more than once, and she hated herself for it even more so now.
“I – I thought of myself as unlovable.” Jasmin’s voice shook as much as her hand did. “I would find someone to have sex with, not because I wanted it, but because I was punishing myself.”
“Why did you need to be punished?” Anni asked incredulously. If anyone needed punishment, it was those who hurt Jasmin.
“I played a lot of ‘if only’. If only I could have been strong enough to stop him. If only I didn’t look the way I did. If only my foster mother had loved me enough to protect me. If only my mother would have loved me enough to acknowledge me.”
“None of that was your fault, Jasmin. You were just a child.”
“It never feels like that when it’s happening to you. You think about all of the things you should have done differently. Maybe if I had been a good girl, I wouldn’t have gotten hurt.” A tear trickled down her cheek, and she angrily swiped at it.
“Oh, Jasmin. Baby, it wasn’t your sin. It was theirs.”
Jasmin sniffled. She knew – mostly – the truth of that now. But she still had those fears of being unlovable.
“Maybe.” It was a very non-committal answer, she knew, but it was all she had. “Anyway, it was why I punished myself. Having sex with strangers made me feel a mixture of being wanted and being nothing. I hated myself. I had no way of getting all of those emotions out. They would build up inside until I felt like I was suffocating. When I would cut myself, it felt like those emotions were able to escape. When I saw the blood, felt it running down my arm, I could breathe just a little.”
Anni didn’t know what to say. She didn’t think there was anything to say. Jasmin didn’t need words to placate her, she needed someone to listen. Of course, she couldn’t help but wonder if Jasmin’s new friend was able to give her the words Anni couldn’t. Or the understanding that Anni couldn’t possibly possess.
“I love you.” It was all Anni had that offered any kind of comfort. The truth.
Jasmin felt the truth in those words, but as thinking about the past usually does, she suffered from insecurity. “Then why can’t you talk to me? Why do I always feel like I’m not enough?”
“Oh, baby! You are enough! More than. Most of the time I feel like you’re too good for me.”
Jasmin’s head whipped around to stare at Anni. “What?”
Anni shrugged self-consciously. “It’s true.”
“That is so . . . Anni how could you even think that? You’re the most amazing person I know.”
Anni gave her a small smile. “I’m glad you think so. That’s all that matters to me.” She squeezed Jasmin’s hand, bringing it to her lips for a light kiss.
“Can you tell me why you feel that way?”
Anni’s eyes widened. She should have been prepared for this. The entire time she was traveling the night before, she knew this moment would come. She had told Jasmin that they would talk as a way to get her to come with her. But thinking about it, and actually doing it were two totally different things.
“Y-yes,” she stammered.
Jasmin turned in her seat as much as her seatbelt would allow. “This really scares you doesn’t it?”
“Why? You should know that after everything I’ve been through, I’ll understand.”
Anni shrugged again, and Jasmin could feel the dampness on her hand. She’s sweating. God, she really is panicking.
“Do you know why I haven’t pressured you into talking?” Jasmin asked, not unkindly.
“Because you know I’m a coward?”
The self-deprecation was strong, and it caused Jasmin to frown.
“Because you were having nightmares,” Jasmin corrected. “I tried holding you, whispering to you that it would be okay. Once you were in my arms, you would begin to relax. But I couldn’t bear bringing it up after those nights. I was scared. For you having anxiety about it, and for me. You’ve accused me of being clingy many times before. Maybe I am,” she confessed. “But I have never loved anyone like I love you, and it scares me to think I could lose you.”
Anni glanced at Jasmin longer than was considered safe before bringing her eyes back to the road. “You mean that.”
It wasn’t a question, but Jasmin heard the wonder in the words. “Of course I do. How could you even question that?”
“Because no one has loved me that much,” Anni confided, her voice almost childlike.
“That’s not . . . ”
“Please don’t say it’s not true. I thought my parents would love me unconditionally. But as soon as they realized I wasn’t what they thought of as ‘normal’, well, you know how that went.”
“They still love you, sweetie. They just don’t understand.”
Anni let the endearment wash over her. It had been months since she’s heard the sentiment from Jasmin, and she cherished it. “Not enough,” she muttered.
It was then that she understood that the two of them had more in common than she had realized. Jasmin felt unlovable, just as Anni did. Of course, they didn’t have the same problems growing up, but the outcome was the same. Suddenly, she felt a kinship with Jasmin that she wasn’t aware was missing.
“When my father caught me kissing Judith, he began telling me that no one could love me. I was too unnatural.” Her breath caught in her throat, and she had to concentrate just to breathe again. You can do this, she chanted silently, and hoped Jasmin would still love her after her tale. “I kept seeing Judith for a little while behind my father’s back. I was so sure I could prove him wrong, that someone could love me.
“I became the clingy one. I needed her to tell me she loved me, or she needed me all the time. I needed to be with her, or to know where she was if she wasn’t with me. We began to fight a lot. Finally, she told me she wanted to go away to University. I told her she couldn’t go. How were we supposed to have a relationship if she moved away?”
Anni’s hand shook violently, and Jasmin grasped it tighter. Her heart ached for the woman she loved, but she stayed silent, waiting for Anni to continue.
Anni cleared her throat, feeling a bit parched, but was reluctant to take her hand away from its safe harbor in Jasmin’s. In the end, Jasmin made the choice for her, loosening her grip to pass the bottle of water to Anni.
“You’re welcome. Are you okay to go on?” she asked softly.
Anni took another drink before answering. “Yeah. I want to finish this before we get there. I don’t know what’s in store for me when we arrive.”
Jasmin nodded solemnly. “Whatever it is, I’m right here with you,” she stated, earning a tremulous smile.
Anni capped the bottle, and set it down before taking Jasmin’s hand again.
“Okay.” She blew out an explosive breath, then launched into the story she never thought she would ever tell anyone. “When I told Judith we couldn’t possibly have a relationship with her being so far away, she told me that’s exactly why she was going. She didn’t want to be with me anymore. That my father was right, no one could love me because I was smothering. She couldn’t breathe around me, and every day we were together, she felt like a part of her was dying.”
“Bitch,” Jasmin whispered vehemently under her breath. If Anni had heard her, she gave no indication. She just continued on.
“For a split second,” Anni’s words faltered, and she coughed. Driving gave her a good excuse to keep a lid on her emotions, and she was thankful for at least that distraction. “For a split second, I wished she would die. That way I wouldn’t have to worry about her not loving me, or think about her with someone else. I know it was selfish, and I immediately regretted the thought, no matter how fleeting it was,” she said hastily at Jasmin’s gasp. “When she left me that night, we were still angry with each other, and had said many things that shouldn’t have been said. Things that we’ll never be able to take back.”
Jasmin watched, mesmerized as a tear slid down Anni’s cheek.
“She died that night. She lost control of her car, and ran off the road.”
“Oh my God.” Jasmin held Anni’s trembling hand in both of hers now, her heart aching for Anni’s inner turmoil. She knew Anni blamed herself, even though it wasn’t her fault. “I’m so sorry that happened. But you must know you didn’t cause the accident, Anni.” Jasmin prayed that her words got through to Anni, and silently apologizing for the ‘bitch’ comment before.
“Intellectually, I know that. But my soul will never let me forget that split second.”
“Baby,” Jasmin murmured, kissing Anni’s hand. She wished she could offer more, but she instinctively knew Anni wasn’t finished yet. Besides, words weren’t going to change the sorrow in Anni’s soul. Only love would do that. Jasmin could tell Anni over and over again how much she loved her. But it would take showing her that she was worthy of love to get past the barrier.
Anni gripped Jasmin’s hand with a firm grasp, as though letting go would mean losing Jasmin. Or losing herself.
“I ran away after that,” she began again, and let out a harsh laugh. It struck her, then, how ironic it was that there were so many parallels between her and Jasmin’s lives. “Traveled some. Decided that one night stands were all I was capable of. It meant not having to fall for anyone who I knew wouldn’t fall for me. I was fine with it. Casual sex with strangers, one night, no repeats. If it meant I would never have to go through that kind of pain again, I was all for it.”
She tugged her hand free, then glided her fingers across Jasmin’s soft cheek. Anni captured the tears there, wiping them dry. “Then I met you. Oh, you annoyed me so much! You were such a tussi!” she laughed a genuine laugh, causing Jasmin to laugh. It felt good, being able to let go of some of the tension, if just for a moment.
“I was not a tussi! You were just arrogant!”
Anni thought about that for a moment before nodding. “I was. Still am, I suppose. But you scared me,” she said seriously.
“Mmhmm. The moment I saw you, you took my breath away. I fought it, oh how I fought my feelings. You were just so beautiful, and the more I got to know you, the sweeter I realized you were. You weren’t always a tussi.” Anni winked.
“Thanks so much,” Jasmin said sarcastically. She chased the words with a smile, making sure Anni knew she was joking. “Why fight it? You know, even though I was with Kurt when I first met you, I felt . . . something. I just didn’t know what it was.”
“I knew,” Anni confessed. “That’s why I fought it. I knew I was falling for you. That was breaking my biggest rules! Never fall for anyone, and especially never fall for straight girls!”
Jasmin chuckled. “I’m apparently not that straight,” she pointed out.
“Well you were then!” Anni smiled when Jasmin laughed a little harder. “I didn’t want to want you,” Anni uttered seriously. “I didn’t want to fall in love with you only to have you say you couldn’t love me back.”
“But I do love you back, Anni. I’m not pushing you away, you keep pushing me.”
“Because I’m scared! I know it’s not logical, but if I push you away for being too needy, if I leave first . . . ”
“Then you’ll be in harm’s way?” Jasmin finished for her. At Anni’s confirmation, Jasmin blew out a frustrated breath. “Anni! You aren’t to blame for Judith. And, you can’t prevent anything from happening to me just by changing the order of your past.”
“I know. It’s just . . . how do I begin to feel worthy of being loved?”
“Oh, sweetie. If you ever find out, you let me know, yeah?”
Anni had to laugh. If she didn’t, she would cry, and that would be dangerous for the both of them while she was driving. “We’re a pair, aren’t we?”
“Are we?” Jasmin asked seriously.
Anni flicked a glance over, thanking whomever was listening above that they had made it to their destination safely. She pulled into the driveway, but made no attempt to get out. They needed to address this before she dealt with her parents. She unbuckled her seatbelt, and turned to Jasmin.
“I want to be.”
It hurt, so much, having to ask this question, but Anni needed to know. “Do you have feelings for this Kiara person?”
“Not like that,” Jasmin answered carefully. “I care about her.” Anni looked away, and Jasmin grasped her chin, turning her head back until they were eye to eye. “But I’m in love with you. Do you understand that, Anni? I love you. There is no one else.”
“We still have work to do, don’t we?” Anni asked.
“Oh yeah. But we can do it, don’t you think? We’re strong enough. Together.”
Anni reached up, taking Jasmin’s hand, and rubbing her thumb where her ring should be. “I wish you had your ring on.”
“Then put it on me,” Jasmin smiled.
“But I don’t . . . ” her words trailed off as Jasmin produced the ring in her free hand. “You brought it?”
“Yes. I was hoping we would get to a point where I could wear it again.”
“Are we? At that point, I mean?”
“I think we’ve made a lot of progress today. Yes, we still have work to do, but I love you. I know I want to be with only you. If that’s how you feel about me, and you don’t think I’m too clingy, then put the ring back on me. However,” she closed her hand into a fist, “if you have any doubts, keep the ring until you’re sure. Don’t make us go through this again, Anni.”
Anni shook her head vigorously. “I have no doubts! I can’t promise that I won’t get into moods, but I can promise to talk about it now. It helped, Jasmin. Knowing more about you. Telling you more about me. I want to keep learning. I want to keep growing. With you.” She gently unfolded Jasmin’s fingers, and slipped the ring back where it belonged.
“I want that, too.” Jasmin’s eyes brimmed with tears.
“I love you,” Anni whispered, pulling Jasmin closer.
“I love you, too.”
The promise that the ring symbolized was sealed with a kiss. It was neither demanding nor passionate, but it was filled with hope for the future. They both trembled as they broke apart.
“Are you ready?” Jasmin asked, gently pushing Anni’s bangs out of her tear filled eyes.
“No. But with you by my side, I think I can do this.”
Jasmin smiled. “I’ll be here.”
After a deep breath, Anni resolutely got out of the car, joining her lover. She took Jasmin’s hand, and they walked slowly to her childhood home, and the father who had told her he no longer had a daughter. Was their relationship reparable? Anni stole a glance at Jasmin. Anything is possible. Right?
To be continued...
Read from the beginning by starting with Committed
The Planning (Interrupted) is a small, sad interlude.