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the world has stood against us, made us mean to fight for you

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“Jaz, have you seen our bracelets?”

Jazmin sighs.

She loves her family, she really does.

She loves their routine. Loves waking up next to her wife everyday, driving her daughters to school. She loves making breakfast with Meli every sunday and playing the piano with Viole. She loves teaching Meli how to paint and loves when Viole sings with her. She especially loves the days when she gets home from work can she can hear her family laughing in the living room even before she closes her front door.

They fill her life with colors she always knew that were missing but no matter how hard she tried she could never fill it up herself.  But, and there’s always a but, they also fill her life with stuff.

So much stuff.

Jazmin is an only child and she grew up in a huge house. If there’s one thing that was never missing in her life, this thing was space. More often than not, she even had too much of it.

She's also a very tidy person. She has to, she’s a chef after all. Her kitchen needs to be clean and uncluttered. There’s no room for mess in her kitchen. Everything has its place. When you take something, you put it back. So when you need said something again, you know where it is. It’s a very simple concept and she’s sure her wife and daughters could grasp it.

Except that they don’t.

“Ma, have you seen my purple sneakers?”

“Ma, I can’t find my book.”

“Jaz, have you seen my yellow dress? The one with the buttons?”

Honestly, it’s tiresome.

It’s even more tiresome because Jazmin knows where everything is.

The purple sneakers? Under Meli’s bed (Jazmin put it there after she tripped on them in the middle of the stairs).

Violeta’s book? On her nightstand. The first place her daughter should have looked for it (Jazmin put it there after finding it the hamper, of all places).

Flor’s dress? At the dry cleaner down the street that also makes minor repairs (Jazmin left it there after she found it one the floor of their bedroom, missing all but one button. Granted, this one may have been her fault - it fit Flor perfectly and the buttons were just too much for Jazmin to undone one by one. Ripping the dress off Flor’s body seemed like the perfect solution at the time).

Point being: her family is messy.

So when she hears Flor’s question, she can’t hide her frustration. She sighs, drops her head to her chest, closes the drawer she was rearranging with a bit more strength than necessary.

“What?” Flor asks, hugging her from behind.

And even if she’s a bit annoyed, Jazmin can’t help it but sink into her embrace. “You girls never know where anything is.”

Flor nuzzles her neck. “C’mon, it’s not all that bad,” she says.

“Flor, you lost your keys yesterday,” Jazmin deadpans.

She sees Flor shrugging in the mirror and she’s about to say something more when her wife kisses her neck.

Her words get lost somewhere. It’s distracting. Flor is distracting.

Jazmin is 99% sure that it’s on purpose.

“Yes, but you found it,” Flor says, just inches from her ear. It leaves goosebumps down Jazmin’s whole body.

Jazmin tilts her head to the side, and Flor takes this opportunity to kiss just that point where her jaw meets her neck. Jazmin’s knees give out just a little bit.

“That's exactly -” she starts, but Flor’s kiss turns into a bite and a small moan interrupts her line of thinking. It’s only a heartbeat later that Jazmin realizes it was her own. She cleans her throat. “That’s exactly my point,” she tries again, her voice a lot lower this time.

Flor has the audacity to chuckle.

“I'm sorry. I’ll talk to the girls.” She meets her eyes in the mirror and Jazmin sees a hint of mischief there, just in the crinkle on the corner of her wife’s eyes. “We’ll do better, I promise.”

Jazmin highly doubts that.

But there’s a hand sneaking under her blouse, fingernails lightly scratching her abdomen, and another holding her firmly by the hip. It makes her muscles twitch and her heart beat faster, her breathing gets a little choppy.

Flor.” A warning.

“Yes?” Flor almost purrs in her ear, bites her earlobe. Jazmin can already feel wetness and heat between her legs.

She makes a move to turn around, wanting to touch Flor and press her breasts against her own. She wants to kiss her wife, let her suck on her bottom lip in that way that makes Jazmin’s lightheaded.

“No.” Flor stops her with a squeeze of her hand on Jazmin’s hips. Jazmin brings her own hand to rest on top of it and watches as Flor kisses her down her neck, teeth lightly scraping the skin there. Flor interlaces her fingers, brings both of Jazmin’s hands to rest on the dresser, starts kissing up her neck again. “Stay,” she tells her.

And Jazmin can only nod. There’s nothing Flor asks her that she says no to.

Flor removes her hands slowly, almost as if to check if Jazmin will obey. Jazmin’s knuckles turn white with the strength she makes to stay put. Flor seems satisfied by it, her left hand already sneaking under Jazmin’s blouse again, her right starting to open the buttons one by one.

It makes a rush of heat hit her core. Seeing her reflection oi the mirror, Flor opening her shirt, her own skin getting revealed as Flor teases her ribs with her fingertips. Jazmin watches as Flor’s hands gets higher and higher, watches as she opens the last button at the same time she flicks her nipple with her thumb. The moan that she lets out sounds a lot more like a whimper and Jazmin would maybe have been embarrassed if she wasn’t already used to it by now.

Flow knows exactly what to do to make her whimper and quiver and beg.

She feels a tug, a hand wrapping around her hair, and Flor steps forward, trapping Jazmin against the dresser. Jazmin’s blouse slips off her shoulder when she arches into Flor’s body. It leaves room for Flor’s teeth to sink into her skin and Jazmin hisses, but doesn’t complain. How can she, really, when Flor pinches her nipple at the same time, her other hand already sliding down Jazmin abdomen, slipping under the waistband of her shorts.

Flor locks her eyes with hers and Jazmin can’t look away. Flor’s eyes are dark and intense and she looks absolutely incredible when she’s like this: confident and determined. Commanding even. Like she knows she has Jazmin where she wants now, knows Jazmin will do everything as she says, will have a yes at the tip of her tongue for Flor’s every request.

She feels hot all over, on every piece of her skin that Flor has touched and every piece she hasn’t touched yet. Flor’s breathing burns her skin, her lips leaving a hot trail of kisses on her neck and shoulder. She’s too aware of her own heartbeat, the loud thump thump in her chest, the rush of blood running though her veins.

She doesn’t see Flor’s fingers getting lower, too entranced by the way Flor doesn’t take her eyes off hers, but she feels it when Flor’s sneaks her fingertips under her panties and circles her clit once, twice. Flor slips her finger down Jazmin’s opening and up again, spreading her wetness from her folds to her clit, and Jazmin bucks her hips.

Flor smirks.

Jazmin loves it about her wife. How she looks so innocent and naive, but isn’t. How they are all soft smiles and small kisses, but also sly grins and hot make out sessions. How Flor is both a love poem and dirty song.

She rolls her hips, looking for some friction, a silent beg for Flor to do something, anything, to relieve that throbbing sensation between her legs.

And that’s the thing about them: Jazmin would do anything for Flor asked for, but Flor would too. And what Jazmin asks, Jazmin gets.

When Flor enters her, Jazmin’s knees give out. Flor catches her by pressing forward, leaving no room between their bodies or between Jazmin and the dresser she’s holding onto for dear life.

It’s not gentle, it’s not slow. Flor palms and kneads her breasts, pinches her nipple and rolls just the tip of it between her fingers. Her lips don’t leave Jazmin’s skin, teeth sinking and tongue licking. And all the while she watches, doesn’t break eye contact.

The angle is not the best, Flor can’t go deep enough, not when she needs to hold Jazmin straight, not when her hand keeps hitting the wood as she pushes Jazmin forward to keep her standing, but she inserts another finger. Her fingers slip in and out, her movements fast and hard, palm rolling against Jazmin’s clit.

They find a rhythm. Flor thrusts forward when her fingers slip inside, eases a bit when they slip out, pressing her clit more firmly then. Jazmin rolls her hip every time, wanting the contact to last just a little bit longer. 

Flor says something, but Jazmin doesn’t hear it, her own pulse drumming too loud in her ears. But then Flor’s hand leave her breast, her hand lowering slowly, on purpose, in contrast with the rapid in and out of her fingers. She scratches her nails down Jazmin’s abs, leaving three red lines in its trail, until it finally, finally, reaches Jazmin’s center, joining her other hand between her legs. Her fingers work even faster now, following a pattern: in, circle, out, thrust, repeat.

It’s too much. It’s all too much.

Jazmin comes in silence, gasping for air. A wave of heat from her center to her toes, goosebumps on her skin, a flash of white behind her eyes. Flor still holds her in place, fingers still inside, now slowly helping her ride the aftershocks.

It’s Jazmin who puts a stop to it, holds Flor’s wrist until her fingers stop and she lazily removes them.

“You are the devil.” Jazmin says, still breathless.

Flor smiles, cleans her hand on the fabric of Jazmin’s shorts, kisses a place on her shoulder where Jazmin can see a mark in the exact shape of Flor’s teeth. “Me? If I’m nothing but an angel.”

Jazmin scoffs, turns around and holds Flor by her waist. She has many things she wants to do to Flor right now, and all of them start with kissing her. So she does. Their lips meet and it has nothing angelic about it. It’s all teeth and sucking. Flor kisses her chin in that exact way that drives Jazmin crazy and she steps forward, taking Flor with her until her back hits the opposite wall.

She bends her knee, lifts Flor up just a little, just to she stands on her tip toes, legs a little open so Jazmin can fit perfectly between them. She swallows Flor’s moans, relishes in the way Flor pulls her hair, but stops when she hears a weak no.

“No?” Jazmin asks, pushes her leg against Flor’s center.

“Yes,” Flor moans, rolls her hips, lets herself ride Jazmin thigh for a few seconds. “But no. We have to pick the girls up from school.”

Jazmin pushes more firmly and Flor throws her head back. The white skin on her neck is so tempting that Jazmin can’t help but suck on it. “I can be fast.”

“But I don’t want you to.” Flor lets out a breath like she almost regrets saying it.

But Jazmin gets it. She sighs, lower her leg, drops her forehead to Flor’s.

“I love you,” she says.

“I love you too.” Flor smiles against her lips, kissing her again. It’s softer this time, like both of them need it to be, so their breathing can get back to normal, so their skins can stop buzzing with need.

“I should probably change,” Jazmin says, gives Flor a small peck. She puts as much space as fast as she can from Flor, because she doesn’t trust herself not to jump on her wife again just yet. When she catches her reflection on the mirror, she finds herself with swollen lips, a mess of a hair, red marks all over her neck and the faint mark of fingernails down her stomach. “Or maybe a quick shower.”

She hears Flor laughing behind her. “I'm sorry.”

“No, you are not.”

“No, I’m not.” Flor agrees.

Jazmin shakes her head and goes to grab a new pair of underwear.

“What were you looking for when you came in?”

“Our bracelets. The one I gave you, remember?”

“Obviously.” Jazmin nods, starts walking towards to bathroom. Flor follows her. “It’s on the jewelry box inside the closet, middle shelf.”

Flor hops on the counter.

“No, I checked.”

“Flor, it’s there. Next to my leaf earring.” Jazmin grabs her towel, hangs it next to the shower. “Why? Wanna stop wearing our rings?”

“What? No -hum- how can you-“

“Flor. Flor,” Jazmin interrupts her, grabs the hand that is hitting Flor’s chest. “It was a joke, I’m joking. I’m sorry.”

Flor squints her eyes. “Oh, okay. Because I would never.”

Jazmin smiles, kisses her forehead. “I know you wouldn’t. Me neither.”

Flor caresses her arms, the touch so delicate that Jazmin wants Flor to do it forever. “I was just thinking, we could maybe give it to the girls? Just so they know we are always with them, I don ’t know,” she shrugs.

Jazmin feels her heart exploding with love. “Oh.”

“You think it’s a bad idea?”

“The opposite,” she says, cups Flor’s cheeks. “I think this is one of the most beautiful ideas you ever had.”

“Really?” Flor asks, voice small.

Jazmin pecks her once, twice, then kisses her more deeply just because she can. “Really.”

“Ok,” Flor smiles. “So where is it?”

Jazmin laughs, takes her clothes off. She doesn’t miss the way Flor’s eyes travel down her body.

“Middle shelf, jewelry box,” she repeats as she steps into the shower.

“I'm telling you, it’s not there.” Flor jumps off the counter, leaves the bathroom.

The water is not even the right temperature yet when she hears the soft oh coming from her bedroom.

“Found it.”

 


 

 

“Do you think aunt Lucia would be my godmother?” Melissa asks.

Jazmin is confused. “Aunt Lucia?”

“Godmother?” Flor finishes it for her.

Violeta just continues taking the last bites of her meal, like she knew this talk was coming all along.

“Yes. I mean, I know I probably already had one, but I don’t know who she is. It’d be cool, I guess, to have one now.”

Flor and Jazmin exchange looks. This are the kind of things that they could never be prepared for. For as much as they love their daughters and would do anything for them now, they come with baggage and they were alone for so long. It’s not something the girls can forget in just a few months. Jazmin and Flor are doing their best, and Jazmin personally thinks they are doing a good job, but sometimes she wonders if they could be doing more.

“I mean, sure. But why Lucia?” Jazmin asks.

Meli shrugs. “She's my favorite.”

Lucia? Really?” A slap on her thigh and a sharp Jaz stop her from continuing.

“Of course, princess,” Flor says. “But why don’t you ask her yourself?”

“Nah,” Melissa shakes her head, takes a sip of her (natural) grape juice. “I’ll just tell her. She can’t say no this way.”

Which is a smart way of thinking, Jazmin will giver her that.

“So which one of the crazy Estrellas is your favorite, Viole?” Jazmin asks.

“Eh - jerk - we’re not crazy.”

Both Violeta and Melissa laugh at Flor.

“I don’t have one,” Viole says.

“Liar,” Meli retorts. “You said it was aunt Miru.”

“No! It was not like that,” Viole seems offended by the accusation the she has a favorite aunt. “It’s just - she’s Miranda Estrella. Even my friends love her. She sings.”

“Hey, I sing too,” Jazmin says.

“Yes, but you are not famous, ma,” Meli tells her, very matter of factly.

Which ok. Good point.

“Do not ever tell aunt Carla that,” Flor says, grabbing her glass of wine. “Don’t tell your aunt Vir either, I don’t think neither of them will like not being the favorites.”

“You could always have two more kids,” Melissa says, nonchalantly.

Flor chokes on her wine. Jazmin can’t blame her.

“I think we have our hands full with the two of you, don’t you?” She pokes at Meli’s sides, making her laugh.

“Viole and I would help taking care of them. I mean, if they were babies.”

Viole, God help Jazmin, actually agrees.

“I'm great at changing diapers. Just ask Meli’s godmother.”

“Well, we can revisit that subject later,” Jazmin says, because the way Flor is looking at their daughters right now makes her feel like she could join them in their suggestion. “Right now I’d be happy if you both were just great at cleaning your own rooms.”

Violeta groans, but she’s still smiling. But Jazmin doesn’t miss the way Meli’s eyes drop to her lap. Flor doesn’t miss it either.

Flor stands up, grabs both her plates and Jazmin’s.

“C’mon, Viole. Let’s show you mother we know how to clean up the dishes,” she says, looking at Jazmin and signaling Meli with hey eyes.

“You just want to get dessert,” Jazmin says, hand brushing Flor’s leg, but acknowledges the signal with a nod.

“We can do both.” Viole says, smiling. She grabs Meli’s plate and follows her mom into the kicthen.

When it’s just both of them on the table, Jazmin pokes at Meli’s side again.

“What happened, Meli? Why the sad face?” She asks.

“I'm not sad,” Meli says. Jazmin raises her eyebrows and the girl sighs. “It’s just that - I don’t know. Does it make you mad?”

“Does what makes me mad?”

It hurts Jazmin a little bit the way her daughter seems to shrink in her chair.

“That Viole and I don’t clean up our rooms. Or that I leave my shoes everywhere. Or that I couldn’t find my jacket yesterday.”

Jazmin frowns, open her mouth to respond but Meli doesn’t let her.

“Because we’ll do better, I promise. I’ll clean my room and everything, I just don’t want you to get mad,” she says, all very fast, in one breath.

“Peanut, no.” Jazmin holds her daughter’s hand. “I don’t get mad, just a bit frustrated.”

“So you won’t send us back?”

Jazmin’s heart breaks into a million tiny pieces.

“What? No.” She leaves her chair, kneels in front of Meli, grabs a hold of both her hands while she thinks about her next words, because she knows this is important. “Meli, your mom and I and incredibly happy to have you and your sister in our lives. There’s no way we’d leave you, not even if you wanted to. We fought so hard for you, baby. You’re my daughter and I love you. I love you so much. There’s no going back from us. It doesn’t matter if you clean your room or not, or if I trip on your sneakers everyday. We’re here to stay. You are here to stay.”

Meli bites her bottom lip and Jazmin knows she holding back her tears. “You promise?”

Jazmin smiles and nods. “I promise."

Meli throws her arms around her neck and Jazmin has to hold onto the table with one hand so she will not lose her balance. She kisses the top of Meli’s head, holds her daughter close to her chest. “I promise,” she says it again.

“Good, because Viole lost her headphones again but is embarrassed to ask for a new one.”

Jazmin laughs, stands up, but doesn’t let go of her daughter, pulling her to sit on her lap instead.

“Again? How’s that even possible, she spends half the day with it around her ears.”

Meli just shrugs, her small arms still around Jazmin’s neck. Jazmin doesn’t think she wants to let go anytime soon, but she also knows there’s chocolate cake coming from the kitchen, so she wouldn’t bet on it either.

“And we’re back." Flor enters the room with two plates on her hand, Viole following close behind.

“Right on time,” Jazmin says over Meli’s head.

And just as she thought, the sight of chocolate cake is enough to make Meli’s body perk up, but she grabs her plate without leaving Jazmin’s lap.

“So,” Jazmin starts when Flor and Violeta are already sitting again. “What is this that I hear that someone needs new headphones?”

“Meli!”

What?”

“I told you not to say anything!”

“You were complaining the whole day!”

“Okay, okay,” Jazmin interrupts before things escalate (because between getting to know the five Estrellas and adopting two young girls, it made her perfectly aware that small fights between sisters can escalate very very quickly). “I'll look for it later and if I don’t find it you can grab mine tomorrow.”

“No, she can’t,” Flor says, taking a mouthful of cake. Jazmin and the girls wait patiently for her to swallow it, brows raised and head cocked to the side. “Oh, you look so cute right now, I wish I could take a picture.”

Flor.

“You three have the same look on your faces.”

Mom.”

“Mine broke and I was using yours up until the day before yesterday but then I sort of lost it?”

Jazmin groans. Meli and Violeta laugh. Flor smiles, but at least has the decency to look apologetic. She reaches for Jazmin’s hand and kisses her knuckles.

“I really am sorry.”

Jazmin shakes her head. “You three are gonna be the death of me.”

“But you love us?” Flor asks, lips still touching Jazmin’s hand.

“So very much."

 


 

It’s not even 11pm yet, but she already feels tired. She gets under her blankets, determined to wait for Flor to leave the shower and join her in bed, but her eyelids are heavy with sleep already.

It’s funny, she thinks, how she was never one to go to bed early until she became a mother.

And it’s not even like she has to do everything for her daughters, not when they can already eat, bathe and sleep by themselves, but still. It’s help with homework, it’s double the laundry, it’s waking up earlier than usual to take them to school, it’s finding random moments of the day to make love to her wife because they are never alone anymore, it’s having to go to the store to buy something Meli needs for her classes, or going to the mall with Violeta because she needs new clothes. It’s a whole different routine than the one she was used to.

Jazmin loves it. Wouldn't trade it for the world.

But she also loves these quiet moments before going to sleep, when she can breathe easy and slow, leaving her to do list outside the bedroom just for a few hours.

She’s almost asleep when she Flor lays down next to her, throws an arm around her middle and rests her head in that spot between Jazmin’s chest and her neck where she fits so perfectly.

“I never get used to it,” Flor says.

“To what?”

“Sleeping in your arms, waking up next to you.” Flor lips ghost Jazmin’s collarbone, press a kiss there. Jazmin feels it warming her body,  spreading from there to all directions, from her heart to her limbs, head to toes. “Promise me you’ll never let go?”

“Never, my love.”

Jazmin pulls Flor just a little bit closer, and Flor hums in satisfaction.

“What happened to Meli earlier?”

Jazmin sighs. “She was worried. I think she was afraid, actually.”

“Of what?” Flor asks, confused.

“Of us leaving them.”

Flor’s head shoot up, hits Jazmin’s jaw with the sudden movement. “What? No! We would never - hum - how can -hum-"

“Flor. Flor, it’s okay,” Jazmin tells her, holds both of Flor’s hands to stop her from hitting her chest. “Hey, look at me.”

“-hum -

“No,” Jazmin says more firmly, rolls them so Flor lies on her back. “Stop, don’t hurt yourself. Look at me.” She waits until her wife looks her straight in the eyes. “I told her that we will never do that. That we love them and that we are here forever, no matter what.”

“It's just,” Flor starts, clenches her jaw. “It breaks my heart. I want them to feel loved. I love them so much.”

“I know you do.” Jazmin smiles, nuzzles Flor’s cheek. ”Meli knows it too. I just don’t think she’s used to it yet. But give it time, we’ll keep showing her.”

She kisses Flor lips softly, the tip of her nose, the corner of her eyes. She knows how stop Flor’s tics from getting worse, knows how to calm Flor down, knows Flor will laugh if she blows just a little on her eyelashes.

She grins when it works, kisses Flor a little more deeply this time. But it’s still soft, still lazy licks and long, easy pecks, more comforting than anything else.

“I’m so in love with you,” she says, breaking the kiss but still touching Flor’s face.

Flor cups her cheek, raises her head just enough to kiss Jazmin’s forehead.

Jazmin sighs in contentment, drops her head to rest on Flor’s chest. Flor plays with her hair, fingers untangling small knots, scratches her scalp, her other hand caressing Jazmin’s back. It’s so easy to fall asleep like this that it startles Jazmin a bit when Flor’s voice reaches her ears.

“So I had a good idea then, huh? Good thing that we found our bracelets.”

“You mean good thing I know where they were,’ Jazmin rebuts, but her voice is so heavy with sleep the it kind of misses the mockery tone she aimed for.

Flor gets it anyway. She laughs, then sighs in false arrogance. “Shhh, baby, just go to sleep, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

 


 

They give the girls the bracelets during a Sunday morning breakfast.

It’s Flor who gives a little speech, about how it meant something for them even before they got together. About how Flor knew whenever she looked at it that she could count on Jazmin’s to have her back and to love and protect her and about how she hopes it does the same for them.

Meli looks at it in awe, touches it almost with reverence, as if it’s gold and diamonds and not the simple black leather it’s made from.

Violeta is more composed, like always. But Jazmin notices how she doesn’t leave Flor’s side for the rest of the day, always hugging her or resting her head on her mom’s shoulder. They spend the day together, Jazmin teaching Meli how to paint, Violeta and Flor reading on the couch.

It’s lovely, so lovely that Jazmin feel her heart filling up with love, expanding in size to allow it to love her family even more.

And she knows this is exactly what her life was meant to be.

 


 

In the following months, Jazmin ends up buying three more pairs of headphones.

And Meli never learns to put away her shoes.

They never once lose their bracelets.