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The Gardens IV
Published Jan 12, 2021

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It was back to school and to kick everything off, the university celebrated in traditional UniSim fashion with a huge festival downtown. Melany: So that's it. He just blew you off like that.
Sansa: He really didn't say anything at all. But who cares. I don't. Did I tell you I saw Lee?
Melany: About 4 times all ready.
Sansa: Sorry. It just makes me feel so good that he came to see ME!
The squeals heard from the end of the park only meant one thing. F3 had arrived. Sansa tried to hold back her excitement when she saw Lee. She hadn't talked to him since he visited her at her Uncle's home during break. She smiled. Sansa: Wait. Who is that?
Melany: Who.
Sansa: The girl holding Lee's arm.
Melany: You really need to do your homework girl. That's Jasmine Wright. Nic's older cousin.
Sansa: Why is she so close to Lee?
Melany: Rumor has it, she is the love of Lee's life. He has had a long crush on her. But she only treated him like a younger brother so he just follows her whenever she's around.
Sansa: Lee has a crush.
Melany: Rumored. They used to be F4 until she moved overseas to pursue school. But before they were all extremely close. She was the only sweet one in the group. She's also the only woman I know that Nic fears.
Sansa: Lee I can't believe he likes someone else.
Melany: I said rumor has it. She must have finished school.
Nic: So why are you here?
Jasmine: Lee asked me to come. He came to see me during the break. He told me you were in love. I couldn't believe him. I didn't believe him. There was no way you liked someone and would not call or text me. I thought we were closer than that.
Nic: I'm not in love.
Jasmine: I don't know. Lee never lies.
Nic: Lee needs to mind his business.
Jasmine: He told me the whole story. Ina's niece? I saw her picture too. Good choice. Lee talked all about her. He said so many nice things about her. You'd think he was in love with her too.
Nic: It doesn't matter. She doesn't like me. She likes someone else. She told me herself.
Jasmine: When has that ever stopped you. When you've been told no, you always turn it into a yes. That's why you were able to get away with so much as a kid. Brat.
Nic: This is different. She's different.
Jasmine: Oh.
Nic: On the outside, she looks so plain. Nothing fancy. I probably would have never noticed her if we just crossed paths.
Jasmine: But you have.
Nic: And then I got to know her. We've been hanging out for a few dates. There is so much more to her. She's ambitious, caring, gentle, determined, and stubborn. And she's just as competitive as me.
Jasmine: So what's wrong?
Nic: She's just so difficult. She makes everything so hard.
Jasmine: So she makes you work harder than those other girls that are dazzled by your name alone.
Nic: Well, yeah.
Jasmine: Love is not easy Nicky. But if you really want this girl, you will fight for her. Show her you are the better man. No matter who the other person is. You're a Wright. So be a Wright!
Nic: I don't know Jas.
Jasmine: Leave it to me. I got you.
Sansa walked in the estate later one evening from studying.
Jasmine: There you are?
Sansa: Who me?
Jasmine: Of course Sansa. I've been looking all over for you for days.
Sansa: uh okay.
Jasmine: Come on let's go for a walk.
Before Sansa could object, she found herself being pulled outside and down a long path.
Sansa: Where are we?
Jasmine: It's the Garden. Have you never been down here?
Sansa: No. The inside staff isn't really outside often. Plus I don't like to go that far into the estate. I don't want to get in trouble.
Jasmine: Well this part belonged to my aunt. And Clark wouldn't dare tear it down. He had it built just for her as a baby shower gift.
Sansa: It's beautiful.
Jasmine: Dominic has the landscapers keep up with it. It's his secret hideout.
Jasmine sat on the couch under the shaded patio. She patted the space right next to her and Sansa reluctantly sat next to her.
Jasmine: I've heard so much about you. You've made a big impression on my boys. I thought I was the only lady in their lives.
Sansa: I didn't mean to.
Jasmine: Oh I'm not mad. We will always be friends. I'm just glad they found someone like you to balance them out. I always found it exhausting when we were kids. They've been like my little brothers. I love them all.
Sansa: Even Lee.
Jasmine: Of course. He is the best. Always loving, Always caring. If it wasn't for Dominic, he would be my favorite. Speaking of Dominic. How is he treating you? I know your Aunt was his favorite in the house. So I know he would only treat you well.
Sansa: Oddly. He has been nice to me lately. I thought he would surely hate me after....nevermind.
Jasmine: I know.
Sansa looked at her curiously.
Jasmine: They tell me everything.
Sansa: Right.
Sansa: Well since you know, I have a confession. I feel really bad about how I talked to him. I wasn't trying to be mean. Everything just kind of came out.
Jasmine: That you like someone else and not him.
Sansa: Everyone kept saying we were dating. And I just didn't like it. I didn't want the person I like thinking he didn't have a chance cause I was hanging out with Dominic.
Jasmine: So you don't like Dominic.
Sansa: I do. Just not like that. Like a really good friend. We didn't start off on the right foot but he is surprisingly different once you get past the hard exterior.
Jasmine: Oh?
Jasmine: Are there any good qualities about him?
Sansa: Well of course. But I feel like he has so many layers. One minute he is cold and the next, he can be thoughtful, funny, tolerable. I mean, I know there has to be some good in him. Otherwise, Aunt Ina wouldn't care about him the way she does. And I appreciate how much he cares about her...and the rest of his friends.
Jasmine: I'm not being biased. But speaking from experience, Dominic is the most loyal person you will find. He is a protector by nature. He just has a hard time expressing his feelings.
Sansa: And the way he looks at me. I get this funny feeling....sorry. I have to get going.
Dominic: So does she like me or does she not like me.
Jasmine: I couldn't tell. There were times during the conversation when I thought I saw something. But then she would turn it off.
Dominic: This is hopeless.
Jasmine: No it isn't. If you truly like her then you know what you need to do. You have to tell her how you feel.
Dominic: But what about this other guy she likes. I'm not going to make a fool out of myself. She already said she doesn't like me. Why even bother?
Jasmine: Cause you like her too much that's why. You have to give it a try. Shoot your shot. The worse that can happen is she says no. But you have to put yourself out there. Fight for her. Show her that no matter who this other guy is that you are the better man and that she would be stupid to let someone like you slip away.
Dominic: I don't think so Jas. It's easier said than done.
Jasmine: Just do it. Take a leap of faith.
Lee stayed behind and waited for Jasmine.
Lee: Do you stand by what you said? That people should just take a leap of faith.
Jasmine: Of course. You can't get anywhere if you don't say anything.
Lee: Then Jasmine I have to know. How do you feel about me?
Jasmine: Lee. I love you.
Lee: You do.
Jasmine: You and the guys have always been family to me. You are the little brothers I never wanted and but always needed in my life.
Lee: Brothers?
Jasmine: Of course. You were most special to me. I always worried about you. That's why it was so great when you came to see me during the break. I'm glad you did.
Lee: Is that all you see me as? Could you ever see me as anything else?
Jasmine: Like what?
Lee couldn't get the words out of his mouth. Instead, he decided to take his own leap of faith. What they hadn't realized was that Sansa had just entered the room to do her usual room check. Her heart dropped into the pit of her stomach. She turned her eyes away and search the floor to hide her tears. She stumbled out the room knocking over a small vase on her way out.
Jasmine: What was that?
Lee: I don't know.
Sansa could feel her heels dig into the floor as she scurried through the house. She held her breath until she finally came to a quiet area. She let out a large breath and tears poured down her face.
Sansa: Of course. You can't compete with someone like her. They have history. She has everything you could only wish for. She wanted to hate Jasmine. But how could she, she had only been nice to her.
Sansa: And you broke a vase. I know they heard you. Maybe they saw you.
She covered her face with her hands embarrassed as she relived it all in her head.
Sansa: I can't believe how naive I was to think there would ever be a chance for him. Not when he likes her.
She kicked the back of her foot against the wall again.
She finally composed herself. She took another deep breath to gather her thoughts. Just as she was about to resume back to her duties she heard a familiar melody. She paused before stepping away. She turned to see that she had walked in Dominic's mother's wing. She was in such a hurry to find a quiet place that she hadn't noticed where she was. This was the area that no one was allowed in. So who was in here. She had to know. She crept into the room and followed the sound to the piano. She was surprised to see Dominic sitting at the piano playing. He kept repeating the same melody over and over. Sansa closed her eyes trying to figure out where she heard it. And finally, she lit up remembering. A smile rose from her face. It was Lee. He practiced it several times in his studio where she waited for him. But this time there was something else added to the melody. She closed her eyes again to visualize it in her mind. Dominic: Are you going to stand there all day?
Sansa quickly came out of her trance.
Sansa: How did you know it was me?
Dominic: Lilac? Your perfume.
Sansa: Is it bad?
Dominic: No. I just know it.
Dominic: I could have sworn I told you no one was allowed in this room.
Sansa: I know. That's why I came in.
Dominic: So now that you see...
Sansa: The song. That's Lee's song. I heard him play it over and over in his studio.
Dominic: Lee's song. He let you in his studio.
Sansa: Well no. I've heard him play from the other side of the door.
Dominic: I see.
Dominic: Well it's not Lee's song. He just loves it. He's helping me with it. It's my song.
Sansa: It's yours. But it sounds so beautiful.
Dominic: And I can't write beautiful songs?
Sansa: Sorry, that's not what I meant.
Dominic: If you want to hurt my feelings again, I'd suggest you do it on your off days. Otherwise, I'd be tempted to fire you.
Sansa: Sorry, it's been a rough day.
Dominic: Have you been crying?
Sansa: No....well... maybe.
Dominic scooted to the end of the bench and gestured for her to sit next to him. At first she wouldn't move. This time he patted the bench a little harder next to him. She walked slowly and quietly and finally sat next to him. He looked at her again.
Dominic: You have been. I've made plenty of people cry. I know what that looks like.
Sansa: I don't want to talk about it.
Dominic: Fine. We don't have to. So how is your new job? I heard that boss of yours can be so mean sometimes.
Sansa smiled a little. The sarcasm in his voice was amusing.
Sansa: Sometimes?
Sansa: So what exactly were you playing?
Dominic: It was a mixture of my mother's written pieces and something I had made up. I'm trying to mash them together but I keep getting stomped. It's hard. She was really great at the piano. I prefer the guitar.
Sansa: She taught you how to play.
Dominic: She did. Music was everything to her.
Sansa: I know how she must feel.
Dominic: She said I was a fidgety kid and it was the only way to get me to focus. It worked a little.
Sansa: Sorry I assumed it was Lee's song.
Dominic: It's nothing. No one really knows I play. They may have seen me with a guitar here and there. But I often go to Lee's studio to play. It clears my head.
Sansa: So that could have been you I heard?
Dominic: Depends on when you went. Lee by far is better than I am. He wants me to change majors. But I prefer to take over the family business so I leave all the music to him. I just use it as a stress relief. I also prefer to write than play. I don't like big crowds, believe it or not.
Dominic: Come on.
Dominic turned around on the bench and began playing his song. He turned his head and smiled at Sansa. He gave her a small nudge with his elbow
Dominic: Care to join me?
Sansa didn't hesitate. Before long they were both playing his song.
Sansa: I have a confession. I may have broken the blue vase outside your wing. I promise I'll pay back every cent.
Dominic: That is a $12,000 vase. Hera the horrible bought it in an auction.
Sansa: Maybe half a cent.
Dominic had an idea.
Dominic: I'll think of something.
Sansa: So tell me how does this pay off for the vase again?
Dominic: Well I figured a date in this market would cost about $80 - $120 depending on location. Therefore you go out with me at least 20 times and I can call it even.
Sansa: So going on 20 dates would be the only way to get out of paying you for the broken vase?
Dominic: Exactly. Or we can just tell Hera you were the one who broke it.
Sansa: I guess you leave me no other decent choice.
Dominic: I'm not going to force you to do anything you don't want to. Besides, I don't like eating alone. And with Simon and Lee occupied with their own women issues. I need someone to keep me company. So it's a win-win for both of us.
The silence was not long between the two of them. If they weren't teasing each other with snarky remarks they were sharing stories of their childhood and comparing how bad the other one had it. Sansa had to admit to herself it wasn't as bad as she thought.
Sansa: So I have to ask? Why did you talk to the board so I could retake the test?
Dominic: Why would you think it was me?
Sansa: Lee told me.
Dominic rolled his eyes.
Dominic: I felt bad that you were going to lose your scholarship over my prank. So I pulled a few things. It was the first time I ever felt bad about anything I ever did.
Sansa: Well thank you.
Dominic: No. I'm.....I'm.....sorry. I shouldn't have done it in the first place. I may have gone too far. And I still feel your slap across my face to remind me.
Sansa: Sorry.
Dominic: I may have deserved it.
Sansa: I also heard you are an archery champ?
Dominic: Yeah.
Sansa: But you let me beat you at darts?
Dominic: Lee talks too much. I wanted you to go out with me cause you wanted to. As I said, I don't want to force you to do anything you won't want to.
As they wrapped up their meal, they decided to take a walk along the square.
Dominic: I almost forgot. I bought you something.
Sansa: I don't know if I should. I don't want others to think you're showing favoritism.
Dominic: Just open it.
Sansa laughed as she opened the box.
Sansa: For me?
Dominic: You need a cellphone. There is no way in this day in age that a person should not have one. How you've gone so long I don't know.
Sansa: I don't know what to say.
Dominic: Well, you can start with thank you. So rude! (he smiled again this time letting out a little laugh)
Sansa: Thank you.
Sansa stood outside the movie theater. It was date number 6 and it was not like Dominic to be late. In fact, he was usually there before her. She looked at her phone again, she was torn if she should call him or not.
Sansa: But if I do would I seem desperate? No, no. Play it cool. Give him 5 more minutes then text him. But what if he's hurt, or worse.
She began to pace nervously in front of the building. Arguing with herself.
Dominic: Ready?
His words startled her.
Sansa: Where have you been?
Dominic: I've been here.
Sansa: But I've been out here waiting for you. This WHOLE time!
Dominic: Sorry I was inside taking care of things. But I'm ready now. Were you.....worried about me?
Sansa: No....I'm just saying.....I didn't know where you were.
Dominic led Sansa into the empty movie theater.
Sansa: Where is everyone?
Dominic: I bought out the theater.
Sansa: Just for us.
Dominic: Just for you. You said you wanted to see "Isle of the Dead". But you were afraid if you screamed it would disrupt other people. So now you can enjoy it without worrying.
Sansa: You are too extreme.
They sat watching the movie. And like clockwork, Sansa was loud during the scary parts and startled during others. Dominic spent most of the time watching her. Smiling at her every reaction.
But also deep inside, ee was nervous. This wasn't the romantic movie moment he planned but it was a good moment to get close to her.
Midway through the movie, Dominic decided it was now or never. He was going to make his move. He took a big yawn.
Sansa: What are you doing?
Dominic: huh? uh! um!
Sansa: Are you trying to make a move?
Dominic: No! Of course not. These are just business dates. Right.
Sansa: Right. I wouldn't want to compromise anything.
Dominic: I just didn't know if you needed to be held for when you get scared.
Sansa: Thanks. But I think I'm good.
Dominic: Oh.
Sansa: But you can sit a little closer to me.
Dominic: I can definitely do that.
They sat comfortably and close to each other for the remainder of the movie. And when she was scared, Sansa would hold on to Dominic's arm. Melany: And that's it?
Sansa: What do you mean? Of course that's it.
Melany: Man you two are boring.
Sansa: We are not.
Melany: I mean there is so much going on between the two of you but you are like snails.
Sansa: There is nothing going on. I'm just doing this so I won't lose my job. It's bad enough the evil stepmother doesn't like me. But to know I broke her favorite vase. That's suicide.
Melany: 20 dates. And nothing. You plan to have no feelings for him.
Sansa: I'm not going to fall for him Mel. He's pompous, arrogant, spoiled
Melany: Cute, rich, and did I mention handsome.
Sansa: I need more than that.
Melany: So there is nothing good about him?
Sansa: Well he's been really nice lately. He remembers the little things I tell him. So I guess he's not a bad listener. And he rented out the theatre so I wouldn't disturb anyone. And he's actually really talented. Did you know he can play three instruments?
Melany: And he bought you a phone. So he does care.
Sansa: I thought you didn't like Dominic.
Melany: I don't like him for me. But that doesn't mean you can't.
Sansa: Me.
Melany: Admit it. You can't wait for your next date. Have you picked out your outfit?
Sansa: That's because I like to plan things.
Melany: yeah. Okay.
Simon: So word around the school is there is a new IT couple on campus.
Lee: Really? Who?
Simon: Nic have you heard anything?
Nic: I have no idea what you're talking about.
Lee: Do you think he knows.
Simon: Of course he does. But it's alright. I'll just ask Sansa.
Nic: You guys are so immature. I need a new set of friends.
Simon: You could only pay someone to put up with you the way we do.
Nic (laughs)
Simon: So what is going on between you two?
Nic: Why?
Simon: Just curious. We don't really see you as much anymore.
Nic: We are just hanging out that's all.
Lee: So if all you're going is hanging out, that means she is free to "hang out" with other people.
Nic: Like who?
Lee: I don't know. I always thought she was pretty cute.
Nic: You wouldn't!
Lee: According to you she's single.
Nic: I know what you're trying to do and I'm not falling for it.
Lee: I'm not trying to do anything. I always thought there was something about her. Something unique. She's like a weed. No matter what you do she'll keep coming back.
Nic: Whatever.
Sansa: Is something wrong tonight.
Nic: What? No. I've just been thinking.
Sansa: About.
Nic: Nothing really.
It was a small quiet before he broke the silence again.
Nic: Sansa? What do you think about me?
Sansa: Do you really want to know.
Nic: Not if it's terrible.
Sansa: Well at first I thought you were this big jerk. That you only cared about yourself. And that you were this spoiled rich kid that didn't know what it was like to actually feel.
Nic sighed.
Sansa: But, after talking to my aunt and being with you these past months I get to see a different side of you. You're not all I thought you were.
Nic: And how do you feel about me now?
Sansa: Well...
Nic: Nevermind. I changed my mind. I don't want to know.
Sansa: So what is it like? Being the big man on campus and having a legacy like your family.
Dominic: It means nothing to me. At first I liked it. It has its perks.
Sansa: Especially with the ladies. They call you the Dream Team you know?
Dominic: To be honest, I have never had a girlfriend before.
Sansa: I don't believe that.
Dominic: Seriously. I wouldn't let many people get that close to me. We'd hang out and do things. Then I'd get bored, or they wanted to be more and I was done. Simon has always been better with women than I have.
Sansa and Dominic sat watching the stars and talking more.
Sansa: Things seem so clear now.
Dominic: I agree.
Sansa: So what about your family? What do you plan to do after college.
Dominic: I don't know. I never thought about it. I'm supposed to run the company but now...I think I may have been inspired to do something else. What about you?
Sansa: I have always wanted to play. My dream is to produce a score for a film or broadway play. I don't know.
Sansa leaned back a bit more and took a deep breath as she hummed to herself.
Dominic: That's my song.
Sansa: What? I didn't realize I was doing that.
Dominic: It's okay. At times I find myself humming it as well. Mostly when I'm trying to find a way to finish it. I like it coming from you. It sounds better.
She smiled and closed her eyes again to hear herself hum the melody.
Sansa: It's beautiful you know. Out here, looking at the stars. So peaceful, calm, and beautiful.
Dominic: I think I have the best view.
Sansa could feel his eyes on her. She turned her eyes toward him while keeping still. A warm feeling covered the side of her face.
Dominic: Sansa, you never asked me what I think about you. Ask me.
Sansa: I don't need to know.
Dominic: Ask me, please.
Sansa: What do you think about me?
Dominic: I think you are a wonderful and beautiful person inside and out. You are hardworking and caring and full of life. There is so much about you I can't explain.
Sansa: You don't have to.
Dominic: But I want to.
Dominic: At least let me show you.
He leaned towards her. She could hear her heart beating faster as he inched closer to her.
Sansa: Dominic...I...
He leaned closer and placed a small kiss on her cheek. The tiny touch brought a jolt from her face to her stomach. She never felt this way and could not understand why. Dominic wasn't someone she thought to be with. If this was a dream, she was sure going to wake up from it.

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Bo0GeRBELLFeb 19, 2021

So excited to see this continue! Loved this chapter! I wonder what happened with Lee and Jasmine. Will Jasmine reassess her relationship or still consider Lee as a friend? It is hard to look at someone as anything but a little brother after so long.

Again, great chapter! Better than the soaps! \:wub\:

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