Her friends would comfort her whenever she felt overwhelmed by her emotions. They tried to convince her to let go of her childish wishes and find someone else, to finally notice the other men that would love to be with her.
“You just need to find someone who will be kind to you,” they would tell her.
“Duke Aion may be pleasing to look at but he is nothing beneath that,” they would say. “He would not be able to love you like a real man would.”
All the young ladies had started off with their eyes on the heir of the Aion Duchy. He was handsome and strong and there was no one who could rival him in their eyes. However, in their own time, they all seemed to realize that he was unattainable and turned to others to become their lovers.
They tried to convince Jasmine that he was too cold-hearted, that there was no point in loving him if he could not return that love. They tried to tell her that his interests would be too divided, that he would go astray even if he had someone to call his own.
While they agreed that the duke was a good man, it was better to watch him from afar. He would not be able to provide the kind of love that a real lover would.
Eventually Jasmine’s friends went their separate ways. Some got engaged, some got married, some went abroad to pursue their studies, some took over their families, others pursued their passions. But Jasmine remained the same.
After Lord Richard revealed to the public that he had no plans of marrying in the foreseeable future, Jasmine felt like a fool. She wanted to grow up and be what everyone else wanted her to be, but she could not stop the butterflies in her stomach every time she saw the duke.
She knew that her feelings went beyond his good looks. She knew that what she felt was real. She had fallen for the duke, against her better judgment, and she had to live with that.
He was perfect to her. He shone brilliantly in her eyes, in ways beyond his objective looks and his reputation. She always believed that he was kinder than all the other bachelors she had met, men who forgot their manners and put on airs in front of women, men who were never as good as they thought themselves to be.
Richard was a disciplined man, a man who expected the best of himself. Jasmine knew that this made him a difficult man to attain, but who else could she want but the best bachelor around?
Ever since she fell for the duke, Jasmine made sure that she was a woman worthy of his love. She devoted herself to becoming a proper young lady and held herself to the highest standards, just as he did.
She knew that the Aion Family held arts and knowledge to the highest regard, with Richard being accomplished in the piano and holding a second degree from the Academy, so she threw herself into learning as much as she could.
She took care of her appearances, learning how to design dresses, jewelry, and parasols that would complement her good looks. She learned different arts such as flower arrangement, painting, music, and embroidery. She took interest in caring for her mind, learning enough about economics, political science, and history to hold proper discussions with others.
It had initially shocked her family when the young girl they had known to treat books as pillows and hide frogs in her tutor’s skirt began to take her work seriously. They did not approve of her love for Richard, but they believed that her dedication to becoming better would aid her in the future when her love for the duke had faded.
But, of course, that love did not fade.
When her father realized this, he approached the Duke Aion and proposed an engagement between Richard and Jasmine seeing as they were both of marriageable age. However, Richard rejected the idea saying that he had no intention of marrying yet.
Though the duke’s refusal was polite and courteous, the Grand Duke could not help but wonder, what does he think is wrong with my daughter?
He loved his daughter dearly and found her to be the most perfect thing in his eyes. It angered him that Richard would not even consider the prospect of marrying her.
He decided that the subject of marriage to the Duke Aion was now off the table. He did not wish to have that man marrying his daughter.
However, in spite of her father’s decision, Jasmine decided to take matters into her own hands.
On any other Valentine’s Day, Jasmine would have turned red at the thought of even speaking to the duke. However, this year she decided things had to change. She had to muster up the courage and let him know how she felt about him.
If he rejected her affections, she would move on and, while it would be difficult, she would try nonetheless.
She needed to get this over with once and for all.