Night Blooming Jasmine
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by Gemini Judson
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Suspense/Thriller
Description: Next Book: Animals
Genre: Erotic Suspense
In the safety of an Adirondack addiction recovery lodge, Jasmine battled her heroin demon and won. Falling in love with the rural life, she stayed at the lodge and became part of the staff. She's also in love with the lodge manager, Adam Vianetti. However, with low self-esteem and a humble future, she's certain she's no match for a guy like him.
Fate has other ideas. On a stormy spring night, Jasmine and Adam are kidnapped and forced into each other's arms. Jasmine's not nearly as frightened as she should be. She's had a gun in her face lots of times. Instead she feels warm and wonderful in Adam's embrace. With chains on their wrists and the thunder rolling around them, they ignite a passion to keep them fiery warm.
When one of the men returns in the night to set them free, he issues a dire warning. The other kidnapper, Red, is heading east and plans to take Jasmine with him. He says he'll shoot her up with heroin--she's just a street rat to him. Jasmine thinks she has no strength left to fight that battle again.
In this prequel to Animals, we witness Red's cruel trail of crimes before he moves on to New Hampshire. But will he go with or without night blooming Jasmine?
Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Dubious consent, sex while in restraints.
eBook Publisher: Loose Id, LLC, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: May 2010
3 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [146 KB]
Reading time: 91-128 min.
Hypodermic needles littered the room. Hundreds of ruthless skewers caught the light and aimed their venom. Naked men milled around a dingy room, sometimes touching her, mostly ignoring her. One man bawled a hollow laugh that echoed off colorless walls. The other men looked at him stupidly and laughed too. A featureless figure approached her with a syringe dripping with liquid. "I'm clean," she protested. I'm clean, I'm clean, I'm clean.
Then Adam appeared among the men, pushing and shoving to get to her. "I'm here, Jas. Just let me hold you." He held out his hand to her, his brown eyes full of compassion. She reached for him and fell into his embrace, safe and warm. He caressed her hair, and she looked up at him. The look in his eyes changed from kindness to that of desire. He wanted her. At last.
He reached around and cupped her ass, lifting her up to grind his hard-on between her legs. When their lips met, she expected to feel ecstasy. Instead, she felt...nothing.
He wasn't there.
Jasmine Bly awoke from her vision of needles and naked men. She'd had that dream before. Why wouldn't it let her go? She ran her fingers through her short brown hair to help erase the clutter of the dream from her mind. Then she remembered Adam's cameo appearance. Whoa. That was new. She rustled her hair again and laughed. She might not share this dream with her lodge mates.
Whenever she told Dianna about her dreams, she felt better--purged. Dianna helped her understand her latent memories. In a heroin haze, her mind had unwittingly cataloged disgusting and terrifying things. Those images continued to haunt her, even though she'd been clean for months. Jasmine felt grateful for the things that didn't surface in her dreams.
She reached under the bed for her cushy mat and poured herself down for a soft landing on the floor. Gradually she eased into a full-body stretch and then sat for a ritual of yoga poses. She followed with a refreshing sun salutation. With happy muscles but a burdened heart, Jasmine grabbed her robe off the chair and shuffled into the kitchen.
Dianna turned from her pan of scrambled eggs to greet her. "Morning, Jas. How did you sleep?"
"Okay, I guess." Her response hit the floor with a thud. She'd meant to deliver it with more enthusiasm.
"Did you dream again?"
"Yeah. Needles everywhere and laughing naked men." Jasmine poured herself a cup of hot tea and sat at the counter. She kept the lusty vision of Dianna's brother out of the description.
"I'm sorry, Jas. I believe the dreams will end eventually. For now, just love yourself for all that you've accomplished. That world no longer exists for you. Send those dreams up in a pink bubble."
"You guys shipping off pink bubbles without me?" Adam Vianetti came into the kitchen like a breath of fresh air. The spring on the screen door screeched behind him like it always did, and Jasmine felt an unexpected tug in her heart. She loved the lodge--her first real home in a long time. Adam kissed his sister, Dianna, on the cheek and grabbed a cup for himself. "Morning, Jasmine. What's in your bubble?"
"Ah. Anything I can help with?"
Hold me forever? Jasmine shrugged. She'd been brewing a crush on Adam for nearly a year, since she first came through the lodge door as a recovering drug addict. She felt certain he was the whole reason behind her success. When she looked into his dark Italian eyes, she wanted to get clean for him. She wanted to look back at him with clear eyes of her own.
"So, Adam, will you be able to map out some new hikes today? I'll bring back eight new lodgers this afternoon." Dianna rubbed her hands together with excited anticipation. "We've got two potheads, one cocaine addict, and five meth freaks."
"Sounds like a fun bunch."
Dianna gave her brother a scolding tap on the nose. "All clean and sober for two months. I looked over their files last night. Only one is receiving government assistance. The rest are paying out-of-pocket." Dianna raised her eyebrows with a smile and handed him a plate of eggs. "That's a lot less paperwork for you."
Adam seemed unimpressed by the news and reached for the spoon to dump another big scoop of eggs onto his plate. "The money comes in either way. Jasmine, are you up for a day of hiking and flag tying? I'd love some company."
"Let me put the finishing touches on the lodge. It won't take more than an hour. Can you wait that long?"
"For your company, you bet. I'll be at my place packing up. Stop over when you're ready." Adam grabbed his plate of eggs and headed for the door. She watched him look outside, then back at her. "Might want to grab some rain gear. It looks clear now, but they're forecasting rain. Dianna, if there's tea left, we'll take it in our lunch. That mint stuff you make is great cold." With a final wink at Jasmine, he was out the door.
"Oh hey, Adam, why don't I make your lunch?" Dianna spoke with sarcasm to the slamming screen door. Jasmine smiled. The brother and sister duo each had their roles in managing the lodge. Dianna was a licensed psychologist, but her responsibilities encompassed far more. She tended to everyone's needs, and that included nutritious meals. Adam took advantage of her motherly nature, but Dianna wouldn't have it any other way.
"I can make us lunch, Di. You don't have to worry about it."
"Thanks, Jasmine, but I'll do it. You finish your breakfast. So, did your dream change this time? Did you recognize any faces?" Dianna pulled out the bread and sandwich fixings.
Jasmine quickly stuffed a forkful of eggs into her mouth to give herself time to think. Honesty? How could she lie to Dianna? She knew every dark demon Jasmine conjured and battled right alongside her to conquer them.
"The men have no faces. But last night, Adam was there." She quickly added, "But he wasn't naked. He reached out his hand to me."
"Really. That's interesting." Dianna paused and reflected, slowly swiping mayo on the bread. "This is good. You've subconsciously added comfort and reassurance to a terrifying chaos." She pointed a mayo-loaded knife at Jasmine. "I hope Adam keeps coming to you in those dreams."
You and me both. Jasmine swallowed the last of her eggs with a side of guilt. She hadn't exactly given Dianna the full picture. She promised herself a tarot card reading when she got back from her day hike. Her grandmother's gypsy ways had taught her a slightly different psychology than Dianna's Freudian dream analysis and pink bubble techniques. In her recovery, Jasmine counted on them all.
She finished her tea and cleaned the kitchen. Never for a moment did she resent her job as the lodge housekeeper. She'd slept in the gutter. She'd spent nights in burned-out buildings and rat-infested motels. The Vianetti family dedicated their lives to help ensure she, and many others, would never live like that again. She'd scrub floors for them, do their laundry, and anything else they asked, happily.
But today she needed to hurry. New lodgers were on their way, and the open-concept sleeping room was almost ready for them. During the winter session at the lodge, she'd build a fire and have it snapping a warm welcome when they arrived. On this bright June morning, there would be no need. But first impressions meant so much, and Jasmine wanted everything to be perfect.
Dishes done, kitchen spotless, pillows fluffed. Jasmine rushed to her private sleeping quarters for a quick shower, then dressed for her day with Adam. She'd get to spend the day following his perfect ass through the woods. Life was so sweet.
Adam stood on the porch, inhaled the fresh Adirondack breeze, and scooped the last of his breakfast into his mouth. He knew the beavers had been busy during the spring snowmelt, and most of his mapped hikes were now underwater. Those furry little buggers could sure rearrange the landscape. He and Jasmine had a big day ahead of them.
He set his plate on the porch railing and gave it a melancholy look. His mom used to scold his dad all the time for leaving his dishes there. Her kitchen chores would be all done and her apron off before she'd find them. Adam smiled and stepped off the porch. Some bad habits were worth keeping, if only to keep a memory alive.
He crossed the driveway to his apartment above the garage. On the way over, he thought about Jasmine and what he assumed was the same old needles and naked men dream. He handled the business end of the lodge and left most of the psychology to Dianna, but he'd had enough training in addiction to figure that one out. Jas was riddled with shame about her past.
He admired her courage. The tangled weed he'd met a year ago had disappeared, and a gentle flower bloomed in its place. She wasn't like the other lodgers. She had an internal strength she seemed unaware of--a maturity beyond her twenty-something years. Maybe life on the streets did that. Yet somehow, she remained refined and beautiful.
In his apartment, Adam gathered a few essentials for a day in the woods and slid his hatchet into the loop on his Levi's. He went to his desk, where a shiny brass compass hung from a thumbtack on his bulletin board. It was his dad's, and he never went in the woods without it. He secured the leather cord through his belt loop and opened the lid. North was still there, right where it was supposed to be.
"Tell me you're not taking that old-fashioned thing."
He glanced up to see Jasmine at his door and closed the compass with a click. "Some folks like the GPS, but I'll take a map and compass any day."
"So where are we headed?" Jasmine sidled onto a stool and helped unfold the map on the counter.
"I think south of here would be our best bet. The national forest boundary slides up next to Lost Lake Road. There's a really cool dam at the end of the road. The lodgers might like to see that." He leaned in and pointed out the area on the map and smelled her freshly washed hair. He loved her hair--short and sassy--and the cut exposed her graceful neck. He imagined running his tongue...
"Looks like a long way from here."
Adam inhaled her fresh scent one last time and noticed the red bandanna around her neck. Probably a good accessory for a day in the woods, but he resented the coverage. He stood and grabbed his backpack, estimating its weight with a couple of quick forearm curls. "As the crow flies, it's not. We'll see how much water we run into. Do you have bug nets? Blackflies could be murder out there."
"All set. And here's our lunch and Dianna's mint tea." Jasmine waved a hand at the thermos and bag sitting on the counter.
He looked an extra-long second at the delicate flower gracing his humdrum kitchen. Jasmine had rarely been in his private quarters. Her presence felt like a perfect fit, the puzzle piece he'd been missing. Her pale green eyes set in her sun-kissed golden skin seemed to catch every ray of sunshine. What was it about her this morning? She seemed to bloom brighter than ever.
Snap out of it. He looked away and quickly shoved the thermos in the pack, squishing the lunch on top. With a few more unnecessary jabs at the contents, he squeezed the zipper closed and flung the unit over his shoulder. "Let's go make some trails."
Adam led the way down the well-worn path behind the lodge. The woods welcomed them inward with dappled sunshine on new green growth and the crisp fragrance of spring. They hiked in silence for several minutes and listened to the chorus of bird songs. Finally he slowed his pace and waited for Jasmine to catch up.
"Tell me about your dream last night."
She laughed and walked ahead of him. That sure wasn't the reaction he expected. "What's so funny?" He hurried to catch up to her.
"I think without my dreams to analyze, you would have no interest in me."
"Now that's not true, and you know it. You brighten my days, Jasmine Bly. I just thought you might want to talk about it. You usually do."
"What would you say if I told you that you were in my dream last night?"
"Really? Me? Was I naked? God, was I an asshole?" Something about appearing in someone else's dream felt out of control.
"No, not naked. Not an asshole either. You kissed me." A soft bloom rose to her cheeks when she caught his eye.
He stopped walking. Jasmine continued for a few more steps and then turned back to him. "You held me close and kissed me."
Adam hitched his pack a little higher on his shoulders and walked ahead, past her. "And you wanted to send this one away in a pink bubble?"
"Hmm. This one I might keep. Just for fun." She gave him a teasing smile as she came alongside him.
No more was said about the dream, but Adam's imagination worked overtime wondering about it. He sure didn't want her to know about his crazy, horny ideas about her. She still seemed fragile, only a year into her recovery. The last thing she needed was a guy hustling her. He could be her friend and a solid part of her support system.
But not her lover.
The day wore on, and they hacked away at branches and tied orange flags to twigs to mark the new trail. The underbrush was still sparse this time of year. It was a perfect time to establish some new paths through the woods. Adam appreciated the physical exertion in the moist spring air. It offered a welcome contrast to his weight-lifting routine. Luckily the blackflies were unseasonably light, so they hadn't had to drape nets over their heads. Jasmine was simply too beautiful to enshroud in bug netting.
At noon they stopped and snacked on the sandwiches Dianna had made, now malformed, and the sweet mint tea.
"Are you still thinking of school in the fall, Jas?" Adam threw a wad of bread on the ground for a red squirrel.
"Thinking about it. I'd hate to leave you and Dianna. I know I'm not a big part of the team, but I love helping with the lodge in my little ways."
"Little? Geez, you're a great help. We'd be lost without you. But I think you're meant for bigger things than making beds."
Jasmine sighed. "You always see more in me than there really is. I didn't finish high school, remember?" She joined in feeding the little squirrel.
"Stop. You passed your GED. You'd be a cinch. You're just one financial aid application away from your first semester at Adirondack College. You could come back to the lodge and help on the weekends."
"I have all summer to kick it around. Want the rest of my sandwich?"
"Yeah. Better me than him." He gave a nod to the squirrel and held his hand out for the sandwich.
"Our sunshine is disappearing. The rain gear was a good call." Jasmine folded her sunglasses into the front pocket of Adam's backpack. "Do you have your cell phone?"
"In the pack. Wanna order a pizza?"
She stuck her tongue out at him.
"We have two new trails." Adam pressed his arm across his chest for a soothing upper back stretch. "That'll get the lodgers started. Pretty easy footpaths."
"God, I remember how scared I was when I first came here. These woods felt like they would swallow me whole. I'd lived in the city my whole life. My grandma had an apartment with a couple of trees outside her window. I thought that was wild." She motioned around at their heavily forested surroundings to contrast her statement. "When she died, my home was the streets. Not a lot of nature hikes."
Adam looked at Jasmine sitting on the rock across from him. She looked healthy and strong and totally at home in her hiking boots and T-shirt. It was easy to forget the reason she came into his life.
"Are you happy in the woods now?"
"I still get a little scared if I'm alone. When I'm with you, I'm happy. I wish could live here forever."
"Then you should. You have a home here with Dianna and me." There were thousands of other things he wanted to tell her, but for now, he wanted her to feel secure. "Should we head back, or do you have one more trail in you?"
"One more. Before the rain."
Once again, Adam led the way with his hatchet swinging. He'd looked at the map, and this last loop took them far from the lodge. He wondered if it was too far for most lodgers. They didn't exactly arrive in tip-top physical condition.
Late in the afternoon, the sky threatened imminent rain, and Adam's muscles were spent. "Let's head back the way we came and finish this another day. We'll see how good your flag tying is." He winked at Jasmine. She winked back, and he stumbled on a root.
"Easy, big guy. We don't need that hatchet in your skull. I'm going to take a nature break. Wait for me." Jasmine disappeared into a thicket, and Adam put the leather sleeve around his hatchet, setting it next to his pack. He cast a wary eye to the sky, considering if he'd waited too long for their return hike. Luckily Jasmine was fit as a fiddle. It might be a brisk jog back to the lodge if the weather turned.
"You okay there, Jas?"
He heard no response. How far did she go, anyway? It's not like he was going to peek... "Yoo-hoo. Jasmine?"
In answer to his query, Adam heard the click of a gun at his ear.
"Jasmine's just fine and dandy. Now put your hands in the air."