The Planning

Part 8

The Conclusion

I have finished my novel, so I thought it was high time to finish The Planning. At some point, I will be doing The Wedding, but I'm not sure when I'll get to it. I'll try not to make you all wait too long. :) Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the story so far (beginning with Committed). Don't hesitate to drop me a line to let me know what you think! Don't forget, this is my version, and not intended to follow what's happening on the show.

Jasmin put the finishing touches on the sketch she had been working on. The design was different than what she normally would do. But being here in Anni’s home town for the past couple of weeks has given Jasmin a different outlook on life. Anni’s father, though still in a coma, has shown significant improvement since Anni got here. It had inspired Jasmin to watch Anni being so caring with her parents. She always knew her fiancée had it in her, but never really had an outlet for it. With the way things were between Anni and her parents, it was only normal for Anni to shy away from too many emotions.

 

Jasmin held the design up, and studied it. A grin tugged at the corners of her mouth. It was good. Really good, if she said so herself. Her happiness was showing through. There was a bit of guilt, of course, feeling so happy given the situation. But Jasmin couldn’t help it. Being in Anni’s parents’ home, it forced the two of them to use something other than making love to communicate. Even though she knew it made Anni uncomfortable at first, Jasmin had to admit her fiancée was getting better and better at opening up to her.

 

“That looks great, babe. Is it new?”

 

Jasmin jumped a little, dropping the sketch to the floor. “You scared me!”

 

Anni chuckled. “Sorry.” She picked up the sketch, looking it over before handing it back to Jasmin in exchange for a kiss. “So? Is it new?”

 

“Yep. You inspire me,” Jasmin smiled, kissing Anni again, lingering a bit longer.

 

Anni wrapped her arms around Jasmin’s waist, melting into the kiss. It was getting harder for her to deny herself – and Jasmin – of what they really wanted. To be able to show each other fully the love they still share. After everything that happened between them, it was something Anni needed. She needed to know that things with Jasmin were truly steady.

 

“Do I now?” Anni smirked. “Can I inspire you to get away from here for a little while? Get a little alone time?”

 

“Hmm. Where exactly were you thinking of taking me?”

 

“It’s a surprise.”

 

Jasmin lifted a brow. Obviously Anni had put some thought into this. But Jasmin was torn. What if they went somewhere, and something happened to Mr. Brehme? She didn’t think Anni would forgive herself for that.

 

“Are you sure about this, sweetie? I know your father is getting stronger, but . . .”

 

“Jasmin, I need to get out of here for a little while. I need you. We won’t be gone long. Please?” She knew she was practically groveling, but for some reason it didn’t bother her like it would have before. Being open and honest with Jasmin was proving to be extremely freeing. Anni had never felt lighter, even with the stress of her father being in a coma.

 

“Okay, baby.” Jasmin brought her lips back to Anni’s, only to break away abruptly at the soft clearing of a throat at their door. “Mrs. Brehme, is everything all right?”

 

Anni’s mother fidgeted at the door, a deep flush covering her embarrassed face.

 

“I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

 

“You didn’t, mom. Is something wrong? Is it dad?” Anni was aware of her mother’s discomfort, but she refused to step away from Jasmin. She had the right to show love for her fiancée as any heterosexual couple did. Her parents were going to have to get used to that. She just hoped that her dad would get the chance.

 

“No, no. I just wanted to ask if you wanted me to cook dinner. I know I haven’t been much of a hostess . . .”

 

“You’ve been wonderful, Mrs. Brehme. We know you’re going through a lot right now. Please don’t think we expect anything.”

 

“That’s right, mom. We’re big girls, we can take care of ourselves.” Anni felt Jasmin rub small, soothing circles on her back. “What I mean is, we’ve decided to go out for a bit. Get some fresh air. But we can bring you back something? Or make something for you before we go?”

 

“Oh, that’s a marvelous idea. I know Rainer wouldn’t want you cooped up here worrying about him.” Mrs. Brehme waved her hand dismissively.

 

“Don’t concern yourselves with me. I’m not very hungry. I’ll just get a light snack, and sit with your father for a bit.”

 

“Mom, you need to take care of yourself for when dad wakes up. Let us bring you back something. Soup? In fact, we’ll pick up some groceries on our way back.”

 

Jasmin readily agreed when Anni gave her a questioning look. “Absolutely. And I’ll be happy to help out in the kitchen.”

 

“Really?” Anni chuckled, then laughed outright when Jasmin bumped her hip. Jasmin wasn’t the greatest of cooks, but she definitely made up for it with her enthusiasm. “We’ll both help out.”

 

“You’ve done quite enough,” Mrs. Brehme objected. “Jasmin, you’ve been very helpful with the housekeeping, and keeping me company while Anni sits with Rainer. I couldn’t possibly ask our guests to do any more.”

 

“Mom, we’re not guests. We’re family.” Anni stressed the word, hoping her mother would finally see Jasmin as part of the family. She certainly was Anni’s. “Families help each other out.”

 

A small smile formed on Mrs. Brehme’s lips. “Thank you. Both of you. Now go.” She shooed them out of the bedroom. “Go out, and have some fun. I can take care of things here for a few hours.”

 

I wonder if I should tell her I need my shoes, Jasmin pondered as Mrs. Brehme pushed her gently out of the house. Oh well. I’ll just have Anni run back in and get them.

 

***

“Still not going to tell me where we’re going, are you?” Jasmin squeezed Anni’s hand with a smile. They had been driving for a few minutes – after Anni covertly retrieved Jasmin’s shoes – and Jasmin was already anxious to know what Anni had up her sleeve.

 

“Nope, just that it’s special to me. We’re not going very far, though. You can wait for another ten minutes or so.”

 

“Ugh! You’re so mean!” Jasmin lifted Anni’s hand to her lips to let her know she was just teasing her.

 

“I’ll show you mean,” Anni muttered good-naturedly. She was nervous. Not only because she and Jasmin will be alone – not counting driving – for the first time since they got back together. But also because this is the first time she had ever brought anyone to her ‘special place’. It was hers, and hers alone. Somewhere she could go to be completely alone with her thoughts. She never even thought of taking Judith there. But she wanted to share everything with Jasmin. It was a different sensation than what she was used to, as she always preferred to be alone. Everything was so much different with Jasmin.

 

“I think your mom is warming up to me,” Jasmin said to get her mind off of the anticipation. She was nervous. She and Anni had been apart for months, and though they’re sleeping in the same bed now, there’s a part of both of them that is holding back. Jasmin wanted to believe it was because of the respect they were showing Anni’s parents. Of course, there’s a small, insecure part of her that worried they had lost their intimacy.

It was silly, really. She had never felt closer to Anni. Jasmin just hoped that Anni was completely over her insecurities where Kiara was concerned. And, if Jasmin were honest, she had her own insecurities when it came to what Anni had been doing the months she was gone. Anni said there had been no one. The past made Jasmin question that. But this was a new beginning for them. She would be damned if she let her doubts get in the way of that now.

 

“I got that feeling, too. I’m just worried if dad ever comes out of . . .”

 

“He will.”

 

Jasmin’s confidence made Anni smile. She never once wavered in her faith that Anni’s father would wake up. It was that conviction that kept Anni going these past couple of weeks. Jasmin didn’t have to stay. She had a life, a flourishing business back in Berlin. But she would hear nothing of it when Anni would give her an out.

 

“Well when he does,” Anni continued. “I just hope he can learn to accept us, too. It’s all I want, Jasmin. For him to love me for who I am, and support me. Support us.”

 

“I know, baby. It may take some time, but he’ll come around. Just like your mom. I am quite irresistible.” She gave Anni a cheeky smile.

 

“You certainly are. And we’re here.” Anni gestured ahead of them.

 

Here. Where is here? All I see is wooded area. “Oookay.”

 

Anni laughed. “Don’t worry, Tussi. I’m not going to make you sit on the dirty ground.”

 

“Well, that’s a good thing. Because I seem to recall you wanting to do more than just sitting.”

 

“Oh yeah. There will be some laying down.” Anni hopped out of the car, and brought a blanket out of the back. “Could you grab the flashlight out of the glove box?”

 

“Flashlight? Where are you taking me?” Jasmin opened the glove box, and a piece of paper fell out. She leaned down to grab the paper at the same time getting light. A glimpse of Anni’s writing made her pause. She debated whether she should read it, recognizing the scribble as how Anni writes her songs. With a deep breath, she began reading.

 

You think that I don’t love you

You think that I don’t care

You think that I don’t think of you

Every time that I’m not there.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

How could you think I don’t love you?

I think about you, dream about you.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

 

 

Attitudes change, but the love remains

The harsh words and slam of the door,

It doesn’t mean I don’t love you anymore.

Space is all we need sometimes, time apart.

It doesn’t mean I don’t think of you, darling.

It doesn’t mean I don’t care.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

 

 

Maybe, baby, we say things we don’t mean,

And, things aren’t as perfect as it seems.

But I do love you, I know it’s hard to believe.

Please trust in me, without you I couldn’t live.

You think I don’t want you, that there’s someone new.

Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

No, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

 

“Hey. Are you going to get out of the car?” Anni stopped short when she saw the paper in Jasmin’s hand. Her song. She remembered stuffing it in the glove box after a particularly rough night. She had been frustrated with the lack of progress with her father, and had walked in on Jasmin talking to Kiara. Only business was being discussed, but Anni didn’t let that stop her jealousy. She had reverted back to her brooding ways, storming out with her song book, to sit alone in the car. It didn’t take her long to figure out she was being an ass. Especially after reading the song a few times. Anni was grateful that Jasmin quickly forgave her when Anni sheepishly came back.

 

 

“I – I wasn’t snooping,” Jasmin stammered. “It fell out, and I just . . .”

 

 

“Jasmin,” Anni interrupted gently. “It’s okay. I want you to read it.”

 

 

“When did you write this?” Jasmin gave Anni a shaky smile when Anni wiped a tear from Jasmin’s cheek.

 

 

Anni hesitated for a moment. “The day I left for the tour,” she confessed.

 

 

Jasmin’s eyes widened. “Why?”

 

 

Anni frowned. “I - what do you mean? I write songs when . . .”

 

 

“No, I mean why did you go without telling me how you feel? We lost months, Anni. Months. All of that could have been avoided, mistakes could have been avoided if you had just told me.” Jasmin worked hard to keep her voice even, and her emotions in check.

 

 

“I wanted to,” Anni admitted. “But I thought I had already fucked things up with you. You took off your ring. I was too afraid that you would reject me again.” Anni shuffled her feet awkwardly.

 

 

More tears flowed from Jasmin as she stepped out of the car, and rushed into Anni’s arms. “Oh, Anni! I waited for you to come to me. Every day I would watch the door – at home, at the store – hoping it was you. I fought myself, forcing myself not to call you and beg you to come back to me.”

 

 

“I would have,” Anni sniffled. “If I knew that you would welcome me back, I would have been there as fast as possible.”

 

 

“It had to come from you, Anni.” Jasmin pulled back slightly so she could look Anni in the eye. “You had to make the decision to come back to me without my input.”

 

 

Anni nodded. She knew that’s exactly what needed to happen, or she would have tried to blame Jasmin if things went bad again. It was her M.O.

Not anymore, Anni vowed.

 

 

“We can’t keep apologizing for the past, Jasmin. The jealousies, the blaming, the non-communication? All of that has to stop, and I think we’re doing a good job at that.” Anni shrugged a little with a self-deprecating smile. “I’m working on the jealousy thing, but I think I’m getting the other stuff down.”

 

 

“You’re doing great with all of it, baby.” She brushed Anni’s bangs out of her face. “Now that all of that is cleared up, take me to this special place of yours.”

 

 

Anni grinned. “As you wish, Tussi.” She took the flashlight, hoisted the blanket over her shoulder, and grabbed Jasmin’s hand. She stumbled to a stop when she felt Jasmin tug her back. “Yes?”

 

 

“Will you sing the song for me?”

 

 

Anni blushed lightly. She didn’t think she would ever get the opportunity to sing the song. Especially for Jasmin. “Uh, sure. Like I said, as you wish, Tussi.”

 

 

***

 

 

“You okay back there?” Anni smirked when Jasmin cursed under her breath.

 

 

“Yes. I know you think I’m a Tussi, but I’m perfectly capable of hiking through the overgrown jungle.”

 

 

“It’s hardly a jungle, Tussi,” Anni snickered. She would admit that the trek to her little hideaway was a little treacherous, but it will be worth it.

 

She hoped. Anni hadn’t been here for years. Maybe she should have scoped it out before bringing Jasmin here. Suddenly they were at a clearing –

well, mostly.

 

 

It was untended since Anni had stopped going. She had always made sure to keep it somewhat cleared, but not enough to alert anyone of what lie beyond.

 

 

“Not much further,” Anni mumbled, pushing her way through the brush. To her surprise, Jasmin never once complained. It was becoming extremely clear to Anni that she had a habit of underestimating Jasmin. Something else she will need to work on.

 

 

There it is. Still standing. “I can’t believe it.”

 

 

Jasmin followed Anni’s line of sight, up a thick, interesting tree. A treehouse. A slightly decrepit treehouse, but it looked sturdy enough to Jasmin’s untrained eye.

 

 

“Wow. Did you build this?”

 

 

“Yeah. Took me forever, hauling wood and shit down here without anyone seeing me. But it was worth it.” Anni tested the rungs of the ladder, and was delighted to see they were still solid. “This gave me a place to go when things weren’t always so great. I could write my songs, play my guitar.”

 

 

“Bring all the girls?” Jasmin teased.

 

 

Anni turned to Jasmin. “You’re the first person I’ve ever brought here, baby.”

 

 

Jasmin loved Anni’s charming smile. It was a rare sight these days with everything that was going on, but now it was given to her in full force. It never ceased to turn Jasmin’s insides to jelly.

 

 

“Think it will hold us? Along with a bit of movement?”

 

“Just a bit?” Anni wiggled her eyebrows. Just being out of her parents’ house for a little while has given her room to breathe. To think of something other than the possibility her father would never wake up.

 

“Well, get on up there and see how much it can take,” Jasmin said coquettishly. “But be careful!”

 

Anni chuckled at her love’s protective streak. “Yes, dear.” She handed Jasmin the items she held, and started up the ladder. The structure seems sturdy enough, Anni thought with glee. Let’s see. She began to jump up and down.

 

“Anni! Stop that!”

 

Anni poked her head out of the doorway of the treehouse. “How else am I supposed to make sure it can stand the test of . . . us. It’s been months!”

 

Jasmin couldn’t help but laugh at Anni’s tactics. “Yes, but if you hurt yourself, we’ll have to wait even longer.”

 

“Logic,” Anni scoffed with a lopsided grin. “Throw that stuff up, and get up here. It’s safe.”

 

“You sure?”

 

“Do you think I would jeopardize your wellbeing? Now get your fine ass up here!”

 

***

 

“Um, let me just clear some of this stuff up.” Anni began brushing debris aside frantically with her foot. She should have cleared things before letting Jasmin up here. There could be critters, or other things that could harm Jasmin.

 

“Anni?” Jasmin watched as Anni moved quickly, using her foot as a broom. She was mumbling something about how dumb it was not to check things more thoroughly. “Anni!”

 

Anni stopped. “Huh?”

 

“Stop. Breathe.” Jasmin dropped the items she was carrying. The sun illuminated the interior enough to see the chagrin on Anni’s face. “Baby, come here.” She wrapped her arms around Anni’s neck when she complied.

 

“I wanted things to be perfect for you.” The pout Anni gave Jasmin was pitifully cute.

 

“If I’m with you, it’s perfect.”

 

Anni’s pout blossomed into a happy smile. With her hands on Jasmin’s hips, she began to sway in a small dance. She felt a tremble, not knowing if it was her or Jasmin. “I’m nervous,” she confessed.

 

“Me, too.”

 

Anni’s eyebrows raised in surprise. She had no idea Jasmin was possibly feeling the same way she was. She had so many questions and insecurities when it came to the months she was away from Jasmin. And, unfortunately, it all came down to thinking of Jasmin with Kiara. How far had they gone? Was there affection? Maybe on Kiara’s part, but what about Jasmin’s?

 

“Ask me, Anni.”

 

“A-ask you what?” Could Jasmin read her mind?

 

“Whatever it is that’s making you frown like that.”

 

“I don’t want to ruin anything,” Anni mumbled. Maybe it’s too late for that. She knew she should have tried harder not to think of the past.

 

“Anni, sweetie. It’s already bothering you. I’d rather you talk to me than let it fester.”

 

“You know what this is about, don’t you?” At Jasmin’s nod, Anni sighed. “I don’t want to know, but I need to Jasmin.”

 

“Okay. What exactly is it that you need to know?”

 

“How – how far did it go with her?” Anni’s voice broke, and Jasmin tightened her hold.

 

“Nothing happened, Anni. I told you that.”

 

“You said she stopped. Not you, but her. I need to know how far she let it go on, Jasmin.”

 

“We – we kissed. That’s as far as it went, I swear. Nothing else happened.” It was the truth. It served no purpose to tell Anni the things that were said that night. The point is, she didn’t sleep with Kiara.

 

Anni nodded slightly. “The clothes you had on the day I came back? They were hers.” Please let me be wrong. Or give me an explanation.

 

Jasmin sighed. “Yes. But it’s not what you think,” Jasmin said quickly when Anni’s face fell into a deep frown. “I was so exhausted and undone that she thought it was best if I stayed.”

 

“Of course she did.” Damn it! Rein in your damn jealousy, Anni! To her shock, Jasmin gave her a smile. “Why are you smiling?”

 

“Because you’re cute when you’re jealous.” She gave Anni a quick kiss. “I know what you think of Kiara, but if you got to know her, you’d see she’s a good person. Anni, it’s because of her, Sophie and even Emily that I’m able to be here. She gave me an amazing opportunity, and didn’t take it away when I couldn’t be there.” Jasmin pulled Anni even closer. “But you should know that I would have given it all up to be here with you anyway.”

 

Anni grumbled half-heartedly. It was the small smile that made Jasmin feel she had gotten through to Anni about how much Jasmin loves her.

“I’m glad you didn’t have to give it up. Yeah, she’s cool for giving you this opportunity. And, I guess I’m grateful she’s giving you this time to be with me. But, I still don’t like her.” Anni smiled and shrugged at Jasmin’s chuckle. “She wants you. I can’t blame her for that, but I don’t have to like it either.”

 

“Enough about that,” Jasmin demanded lightly. “You brought me out here so we could be alone, right?” Anni nodded. “Then I don’t want anyone interrupting our time together. This is about us. We’re together again, and I want to celebrate that. Finally.”

That was something Anni could get behind. Of course she was still nervous, but knowing that there was no one else – for her or Jasmin – helped.

 

“This feels like our first time,” Anni noted softly.

 

Jasmin smiled. “It does. But remember how amazing that was.”

 

“As I recall, I’m pretty sure all you were able to say was ‘wow’.” Anni gave her a smug smirk, making Jasmin laugh.

 

“That’s true. Every time we’re together is wow. Galactic.” Jasmin leaned in and kissed Anni deeply. When they finally came up for air, they were both panting. “Want to see if we still have it?” she whispered.

 

“Oh yeah.”

 

***

 

For as long as they’d been apart, Anni thought their first time back together would be fast and furious. Instead, they slowly undressed each other, savoring the moment, the feelings flowing between them, and the smoldering desire that was just below the surface. Slow didn’t mean less passionate. That was one thing Anni learned with Jasmin.

 

One night stands were all about frenzied sex. Sometimes it was great. Other times it was a great disappointment. But basically they were all the same. No emotions, just a need to get off. When Anni and Jasmin made love for the first time, it was unlike anything Anni had ever experienced. She knew it was because of how they felt about each other. Whether they were ‘fast and furious’ or ‘slow and sensual’, it was always an exhilarating experience.

 

Jasmin let out a quiet whimper when Anni’s hot mouth closed around a very hard nipple. This was familiar, and yet it felt so new. Perhaps that was because of the new closeness they have now. Whatever it was, Jasmin was loving it.

Anni reluctantly left her task of giving attention to two of her favorite body parts to lay out the blanket on the wooden floor. She spared a moment to wish there was a soft bed here in her old treehouse, but she and Jasmin never shied away from doing anything anywhere.

 

 

“Come here.” Anni kneeled on the blanket, coaxing Jasmin over with a seductive smile. She didn’t have to work hard. Jasmin was very willing, and very ready.

 

“It’s been a while,” Jasmin whispered against Anni’s lips.

 

“Yes.”

 

“I’m scared.”

 

“Don’t be. The only way we’ve changed is to get better,” Anni decided confidently. She had felt the way Jasmin responded to her touches, her kisses. From the first moan and shiver, all of Anni’s insecurities left her.

 

Both of them moaned when their naked bodies touched. Anni moved over Jasmin, situating her thigh against Jasmin’s hot center. Her confidence grew exponentially when she felt how wet Jasmin was for her. Feeling her own abundance of excitement, she knew neither of them would last long, but that was quite all right. Anni was determined to show Jasmin how much she missed her a few times.

 

“You feel so good,” Jasmin murmured, lifting her own thigh between Anni’s undulating hips. She grabbed Anni’s hand that was traveling down between them. “If you touch me now, this will be over,” she warned.

 

“It’s just the beginning,” Anni replied with a smile. She continued her journey, and dipped her fingers into Jasmin’s copious amount of wetness. “I missed you so much.” She slipped inside Jasmin, loving how Jasmin raised her hips to pull her in deeper.

 

Jasmin responded with a deep, throaty moan, digging her nails into Anni’s shoulder blades. Their moves became faster, needier. As much as they both wanted to drag this out, the need to get over that first hurdle was too great.

 

“Anni!”

 

“I’m right there with you, baby,” Anni panted. She added a third finger, using her thigh to push herself deeper, harder into Jasmin. Having her fingers gripped by Jasmin, and grinding her own sex on Jasmin’s smooth thigh brought her to the edge. “Now, Jasmin! Please!”

 

“Yes!”

 

Their mouths crashed together, swallowing each other’s cries of ecstasy. They rode the waves of their simultaneous climax, holding onto each other tightly. Anni was right. It was better. Neither really thought that was possible, but it had been proven right here, right now. And as soon as she was able to move again, Jasmin would prove it over and over.

 

***

 

“That was amazing.” Jasmin was still slightly out of breath, and both of their bodies were sweaty. Neither cared. They were content just holding each other. Truth is, they were both exhausted, but completely sated. It took them four tries to be sated, but that was hardly a hardship.

 

“That was fucking awesome,” Anni amended with a smug smile. “I should have thought to bring a second blanket, though I’m enjoying the view.” She looked pointedly down at Jasmin’s naked body. All the good parts were covered by the way Jasmin was positioned across Anni’s body, but the parts that were visible were perfect.

 

“It’s okay,” Jasmin chuckled at Anni’s ogling. “Good thing it’s warm today. Besides, as much as I’m enjoying being here like this with you, we should go soon. We still need to get groceries.” They had been gone longer than either of them had expected.

 

Anni sighed. “Give me a few more minutes before we have to get back to reality?”

 

Jasmin propped herself up on her elbow so she could look Anni in the eye. “This is reality, sweetie. You and me together. That includes moments like this, but also the good and bad of everyday living.”

 

“I know,” Anni gave her a sad smile. “I just don’t know how much longer we’re going to be able to stay here. I need to get my job back, you have important things to do with Tussi Attack, and most importantly, money doesn’t grow on trees.”

 

“You don’t have to worry about money, baby. My designs are selling well.” Jasmin couldn’t resist lowering her head for several little kisses.

 

“Multiple stores are stocking my brand. I’ve got us covered.”

 

“I’m not going to live off of you, Jasmin.”

 

“Stop with the macho stuff, Anni,” Jasmin warned, not unkindly. “What we’re doing here, getting married? That means we support one another in times of need. It says so right in the vows. For better or for worse.” Jasmin brushed her lips against Anni’s. “For richer or for poorer.” Another kiss.

“In sickness and in health.”

 

“We haven’t said those vows, yet,” Anni reminded her in a weak attempt to ‘win’.

 

 

“It doesn’t matter. Anni, what’s happening with your father devastates me, too. So let me do my part in being there for you in any way I can. Let me feed you, love you, support you in any and every way.”

 

Anni thought about that, looking at the situation through Jasmin’s eyes. She couldn’t fault her for wanting to help. If the tables were turned, Anni would be the same way. So, even though it was difficult to let go of her pride, Anni agreed with a prolonged, probing kiss.

 

“Thank you.”

 

Jasmin smiled softly. “I’m pretty sure in the very tiny fine print of the wedding vows it states you don’t have to thank me for doing something I’ve vowed to do.”

 

Anni snorted with laughter. “Does not say that. And besides, I’m becoming more open and honest, remember? So when I say ‘thank you’, just say ‘you’re welcome’.”

 

“You’re welcome,” Jasmin obeyed cheekily.

 

***

 

They were both laughing at some cheesy joke Anni had just told Jasmin as they walked into the house. Each were still riding the high of finally being alone together, and knowing they still had their strong connection. Even stronger now. The laughter died as soon as they saw Anni’s mother’s stricken face. Anni clutched the bag she held with one hand, and sought out Jasmin with the other.

 

“Mom? Are you okay? Is it dad? Is he . . .” She couldn’t even bring herself to say the words she feared the most.

 

“No! No, he’s fine. He – he woke up earlier, just for a minute. Andrea, he asked for you.”

 

Anni stood there motionless, eyes wide with fear and anticipation. She wasn’t sure whether to go to her father, or flee.

 

“Go, sweetie. I’ll take care of this stuff,” Jasmin said, indicating the bags of groceries they had hauled in.

 

“A-are you sure? I could help you.”

 

Jasmin could sense Anni’s internal struggle. Instinctively, she knew that Anni was afraid that he had heard everything she had said to him.

 

“I’m sure. Everything will be fine. I promise.” She gave Anni a reassuring smile. “I’ll just get this situated, and then I’ll make some tea and soup for

your mom. Go on.” Jasmin pushed Anni gently towards her father’s bedroom.

 

“Thank you,” Anni said softly, the words barely audible.

 

“Yes, thank you,” Anni’s mom echoed once Anni left the room. “You’ve kept both of us sane these past couple of weeks. I don’t know what we would have done without you.”

 

Jasmin waved off the unexpected compliment. “Anni is my family. I would do anything for her. And, you.”

 

“I know this is taking time away from your work, and your wedding. You shouldn’t have to postpone any longer.” Her hand trembled as she pushed hair back from her face. “I’m sure when Rainer wakes up, he’ll need a lot of care and time to recover, but . . .”

 

“Mrs. Brehme,” Jasmin interrupted gently. “It would make Anni so happy to have you both at our wedding. We would be more than willing to wait until that can happen.” Jasmin gave Mrs. Brehme a bright smile. “Now, let me make you some tea and something to eat so you can get some rest.”

 

***

 

“Sweetie?” Jasmin whispered close to a sleeping Anni’s ear. Anni was sitting in her usual chair, holding her father’s hand, and dozing off. “Anni?”

 

“Huh?”

 

“Shh,” Jasmin chuckled, and placed a finger over Anni’s lips. “I brought you something to eat. No arguing.”

 

“Thank you, baby,” Anni mouthed with a smile.

 

Jasmin gestured that she was going to leave father and daughter alone again, kissing Anni gently.

 

“Jasmin?”

 

Anni bolted upright, and whipped her head towards Jasmin, then back at her father.

 

Jasmin had stopped dead in her tracks when she heard the soft, hoarse voice coming from the bed.

 

“Dad?” Anni’s voice cracked with emotion.

 

Jasmin wasn’t quite sure what to do. She knew he had called out for her, but why? Would it do him more harm than good to go to him? What if he wanted to tell her to get out?

 

“Jas-min?” Mr. Brehme repeated with difficulty.

 

Anni gave Jasmin a desperate look. Her father was awake, and calling for her fiancée. She had absolutely no idea what to think, or what to do. At that moment, she was afraid that her father heard everything she had said to him. And she was afraid he didn’t. There was only one way to find out why he called out for Jasmin. Finally, she motioned for Jasmin to join her.

 

With reluctance, Jasmin made her way to Mr. Brehme’s side. The opposite side of Anni.

 

“Mr. Brehme?” Jasmin cleared her throat, hoping that the next time she spoke it would be stronger.

 

Mr. Brehme was too weak to hold out his hand, but he spread his fingers out, palm up, silently beckoning Jasmin. Once she – dazedly – took his hand, she felt him faintly tug. She looked to Anni, who looked just as bewildered as Jasmin felt.

 

Anni shrugged, then locked her eyes on her father. She should be getting her mom. Or calling the doctor. But the situation was so incredibly . . . well, incredible, that normal brain function seemed to be disabled at the present time.

 

Jasmin bent until she was close enough to hear a slight wheezing coming from Anni’s father.

 

“Good . . . for . . . her.”

 

He slowly turned his head from a stunned Jasmin, to an even more shocked Anni. He moved his hand towards his daughter, and she immediately took it. His was frail, and that worried her. But, again, logic flew out of her mind when he brought the two women’s hands together.

 

“Heard. Know . . . now.”

 

“Daddy?” Anni’s tear filled eyes met Jasmin’s – also wet with unshed tears. “Go get mom?”

 

“Of course! I’ll get the doctor here, too.” She just hoped they weren’t saying goodbye. When Anni distractedly nodded, Jasmin left father and daughter staring at each other.

 

Anni barely noticed Jasmin leaving the room. Her father was awake! He looked tired, and she couldn’t help but to find that silly since she pretended he was sleeping when she couldn’t handle reality.

 

“Do you need something? Water? Are you cold?”

 

“Anni?” Rainer’s voice was barely a whisper, and sounded rough to Anni’s ears. But it was also the most wonderful sound. “I . . . I’m sorry.”

 

“Shh, dad. I’m sorry, too, but we can talk about all of that when you’re stronger.”

 

“Heard,” he repeated.

 

With trembling hands, Anni brought a cup of water to her father’s lips, and he sipped slowly. She knew he was still watching her, but she didn’t know how to respond. Obviously he had heard everything she had said while he ‘slept’. Some of those things were said in anger.

 

“Dad, I’m so sorry. I . . .”

 

“Love . . . you,” he interrupted tiredly. “Everything . . . okay.”

 

Just then, Anni’s mother burst into the room. After that, chaos ensued. Doctors showed up, her mom wouldn’t leave her husband’s side, and words like miracle were thrown around. Anni spent the time crying on Jasmin’s shoulder. She was elated, relieved, confused, and completely overwhelmed. But the one thing that stood out in her mind was how he said he loved her, and everything was okay. For the first time in her life, Anni truly believed that everything – family, Jasmin, and anything else she and Jasmin will face together – would be just fine.

 

***

 

Rainer Brehme got stronger every day. Anni’s mother credited Anni’s daily vigil at his bedside. It didn’t matter to Anni why her father was still here, and getting better. She was just glad he was.

 

Jasmin had – as usual – been a godsend. She would speak to Anni’s father for long periods of time, laughing, crying, and basically not giving him any choice when it came to loving her. They even spoke about the wedding, with Anni’s father vowing to be strong enough to walk Anni – and Jasmin – down the aisle.

 

Plans for the wedding were now in full force. Even Anni’s mom, along with Katrin, were getting in on it. That was fine with both Anni and Jasmin. It freed them up to spend more quality time together without any wedding drama. Hell, they would be happy with just a small little ceremony that they could share with their closest friends. Of course, the mothers did not feel the same way. So unless they choose something outrageous, Anni and Jasmin are happy to delegate.

 

“Are you happy?” Jasmin traced one of Anni’s tattoos on her chest. They had just made love, so if Anni wasn’t happy right now, Jasmin had some work to do.

 

“Never been happier, baby.”

 

“Me, too.” Suddenly Jasmin noticed something different about the tattoo that she had seen many, many times before. She lifted her head to get a better look. Integrated into one of her existing tattoos was a flower. A jasmine. Each petal housed a letter, spelling out Jasmin’s name. Jasmin’s eyes snapped up. “Anni?”

 

“You asked me once if you would ever be one of my tattoos. From the moment I met you, you were tattooed here,” Anni said, placing a hand over her heart near the ink. “Now, you’re able to see it.”

 

It was a very long time before they left the bedroom again. Jasmin showed Anni – in very many ways – just how much what Anni said and did meant to her.

 

The End

Read from the beginning by starting with Committed

The Planning (Interrupted) is a small, sad interlude.

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