The Gray Area
“Dude! Where exactly are you? Your mom’s been calling me and I’ve been covering for your ass all day,” Hallee was yelling at the top of her voice as soon as I picked up her call.
“I know, sorry,” I whispered as I tiptoed away from the bed. “I’m with Blake,”
“You’re with who?! What? How did that happen?” she was screaming even louder this time.
“Long story. I’ll tell you later,” I said quickly as I stole a glance over to Blake, who was still sound asleep.
It’s almost 4 PM in the afternoon now. After we got up in the morning, Blake and I ended up staying around the resort, enjoying a late brunch, spending some time at the beach, before returning back to the room to take a nap. He looked so peaceful and I couldn’t help but notice his gorgeous features as he laid there sleeping.
“Is everything alright? You just up and left last night and you told your mom you were at my house... I thought you were with Ju—“
“Nope, I’m not. I’m with Blake. But everything’s fine, so don’t worry. I can’t really talk now, but I’ll tell you everything later, okay?” I said to her again. I cut her off on purpose, I didn’t wanna hear his name being spoken at all.
“Okay, fine,” she sighed. “I’m just making sure you’re okay,”
I walked back towards the bed and my hand was about to reach for Blake’s face, when suddenly I was reminded of Judah. That son of a bitch and the way he slept… My heart wrenched at the thought of him but I quickly shoved it away.
I really need to stop complaining about the things that I don’t have. I got a great guy with me, my dream guy, and I should be thanking heavens for it.
“I am, I’ll call you later Hals,” I said again before finally cutting off the call. And as the call ended, I noticed an alarming amount of notifications on my screen.
8 missed calls (unknown number)
Who could it be? I told myself not to go there, but I couldn’t help but wonder, maybe it was Judah?
But so what if it was him! He called me last night, not saying a word, and just hung up. I wasn’t gonna give in to his sick mind games. I was about to put my phone back down when suddenly it started vibrating.
Unknown number calling.
I debated with myself for a few seconds before my curiosity finally got the best of me. My finger swiped the answer button and I put the phone next to my ear.
“Hello?” I said cautiously.
“Taya? Hi sweetie, it’s Jenny,” the woman on the other line spoke.
Judah’s mom? Why was she calling me?
“Hi Jenny, umm, sorry I missed your calls,” I was stammering as she caught me off guard. “What’s going on?”
“Taya honey, are you with Judah? I’ve been trying to reach him,”
“Um, no, I’m not. After the play was over, we went our separate ways,” I swallowed a lump in my throat as I heard his name being spoken out loud.
“Did he tell you where he was going?” Jenny pressed on, and she sounded worried.
“No, he didn’t. Why? What’s wrong?”
“He never came home and I couldn’t reach him. I’m worried about him, the last time this happened… Oh God, I hope he’s alright,” Jenny said again, and I could tell she was on the verge of crying.
“I… could help ask around for him…” I found myself saying.
“Oh, that would be great. Thank you. Please tell me if you hear anything,”
“Sure, no problem,”
Once I got off the phone with Jenny, I dialed Judah’s number. I knew I told myself I wasn’t gonna be involved with Judah anymore, but this I wasn’t doing this for Judah, I was doing this for Jenny.
I had prepared a speech and I was gonna tell him off for making his poor mother worry once he picked up the phone. But the phone didn’t even rang and it went straight to voicemail instead. It was weird. I remembered Judah giving me a call at 2.30 AM last night, why was his phone dead now all of a sudden?
I had this gut feeling that something wasn’t right. I started to remember little details about his call from last night. Although he didn’t say anything, I could hear some background noises. There was a muffled sound of electronic music of some sort—maybe he was in a club somewhere.
I think I know where he could be…
“Hey babe, you’re up?” Blake’s voice broke me from my train of thought.
“Umm yeah,” I looked up to him and flashed him a quick smile.
“Who was that?” he said groggily, referring to the phone call.
“Uh… my… mom,” I lied.
“She’s looking for you, huh?”
“Yeah… I think I should head back. Can you drop me off in town? I need to… run an errand for her,” I lied again. And I didn’t know why I just did that. Perhaps I just didn’t feel like mentioning another guy’s name to my new boyfriend.
“Okay. But, can I see you again tonight?”
Blake dropped me off at town and he offered to help me with my errand, but I quickly turned him down. After he left, I used my trusty google maps to find the place that I heard Judah and Ava talked about before: Castro’s.
Castro’s was located deep inside these long alleyways near the town center. It was just a normal-looking bar in the daytime, and at night it transformed into a club or something. At least that was what the review on google said.
As I made my way to the entrance of Castro’s, I noticed the ‘closed’ sign hanging on the window. I was about to give up and turn away, when I noticed something on the corner of my eye. Judah’s motorcycle was parked on the side of the building.
I decided to go around the back and try to see if they have another entrance to the building. Sure enough, there was a back door and to my absolute favor, it was unlocked.
I pushed the heavy metal door back and immediately I was hit with a strong smell of alcohol, blood, and cigarettes. There were other weird smells too that I just didn’t know what and the smell was so intense, I almost gagged.
Ignoring the fluorescent light above me that was blinking on and off, I made my way through a long empty hallway. At the end of hall stood this large room with something like a cage in the middle. It was strange, I had never seen anything like this before.
At the end of the room was this tall crimson door. It looked intimating as it had the restricted sign plastered there. And as I made my way closer to it, I could make out the sound of people talking. Taking a deep breath, I decided to creak the door open slightly.
“We can’t just take him down. He’s the most powerful man on this island,” Said a big guy with dreadlocks and tattoos all over his face.
“We can and we will. And I just happen to have a secret weapon for it,” said a guy opposite to him, and I think I’ve seen him before.
“Which is?” the big guy spoke again.
“Me,” my eyes followed the sound of that familiar voice and I found Judah, lying down with his feet up on an old sofa in the middle of the room. I gasped as soon as I saw him and I accidentally pushed the door back too far, revealing myself to the entire room.
The room inside resembled a small office, there was a desk and chair on the far right, and the familiar looking guy was sitting there. Several other guys were standing around the middle area, where the sofa was. Then, I found Ava and her bright red hair, sitting casually on an armchair next to the sofa.
Other than Judah and Ava, there were about five other guys in there and they all shot me a deadly look as soon as my little head popped through the door. They looked as if they were in the middle of an important discussion, and I just happen to be present all of a sudden.
“Blondie?! What are you doing here?” Judah’s body jerked up as soon as he saw me.
Judah’s eyes were bloodshot red and tired, and his face was extremely pale. There were also cuts and marks all over his face and body, and they weren’t the ones he got on the day of the play. This was newer.
But the thing that shocked me the most was the IV bag hanging on a makeshift pole next to him, and the tube was connected to his arm.
What the heck happened to him?
“Who’s that?” The guy sitting on the desk interjected, and then I remembered that he was the guy I saw riding with Judah a few months back. His name was… Max.
“Just some girl I went to school with,” Judah spoke under his breath. His voice was weak and coarse.
“You needa get her outta here, man,” Max replied.
“Go home, Blondie,” Judah nodded his head to me, his eyes throwing daggers.
“No,” I said simply, “I’m not leaving here without you,”
If looks could kill, I’d have died about twenty times that minute.
“You need to handle that, fucking now,” Max said again, sounding more and more intimidating.
Judah sighed in frustration and got to his feet. He strode over to me and I found myself backing away towards the door. In one swift move, he pulled my hand to the side, pushed the door back and led us both outside.
“What the fuck are you doing here, Blondie?” he hissed as soon as the door slammed shut.
“I… Your mom is worried sick about you. I’m here to help her look for you,“ I replied defensively.
“Ok, you found me, now what?” he said coldly. Something told me that he was a little disappointed in my answer.
“Let’s get outta here. You need to stay away from this place and these people,”
“Yeah, that’s not happening,” he scoffed mockingly and cocked his head to the side, “You, on the other hand, need to leave,”
He pulled my arm briskly, trying to shove me back towards the exit. Using all my strength, I stood my ground and pulled my hand away.
“Judah, wait,” I said quickly, pausing before saying, “Why did you call me last night?”
He looked taken aback as he wasn’t expecting that question from me. Quickly, he recovered himself and said, “I didn’t,”
“I didn’t call you. My phone broke,” he said as he took out a smashed iPhone from his jeans pocket.
I noticed his hand as he showed his phone to me. His knuckles were torn to shreds, the skin was black and blue.
“Judah…” I started, but he cut me off.
“You haven’t changed your clothes. You never went home last night?” he said suddenly, catching me off guard. It was then when I realized I was still wearing the same clothes from the night before.
“What does that have to do with anything?” I said defensively and he let out an irritated sigh.
“Look, I dunno what you think you’re doing here, but this is no place for you. Stop trying to find me and stop trying to save me, ’cause it’s fucking too late. Now get the hell out,” he spat, his finger motioned for the door.
His eyes were dark and cold, sending chills all over my body.
“Who are you?” I whimpered. “You’re not the Judah that I once knew,” I paused and waited for his reaction, but he was just stoic. It was as if there was no more life in his eyes.
Shaking my head in disappointment, I took one last look at him and said, “But, he’s in there somewhere, I know he is. If you see him, tell him to come home. Because the people that loves him are waiting for him,”
Judah didn’t say anything and he just looked away. We were standing next to each other in a cramped space, but I felt like we were miles away from each other.
“Are you done?” he said finally, in a low and cold voice.
I was done. I absolutely was.
I let out one last irritated sigh and that was the last thing I did before I turned for the door. I never bothered looking back and he never bothered saying anything else.
It was a long walk home from town and so I had a lot of time to think to myself. The Judah that I once knew was dead and gone. And I couldn’t sit around, waiting for him to come. I was done waiting. I was done making excuses for him. This was the end of our story.
But how could I end something we never even started?
It was the worst feeling, thinking that everything we’ve done meant nothing to him. That Imeant nothing to him. With every step, my thoughts were getting heavier and my eyes wetter. And when I finally reached my house, I thought of just going up to my room to and cry my eyes out—but no.
I opened the front door and saw my dad, mom, and Kai—all sitting around the living room together, watching TV.
“Dad?” I gaped.
“There’s my baby girl,” dad stretched his arms out wide and I ran to him in response, throwing myself into his arms.
“Dad! You’re home!” I cried as I linked my arms around him. I hadn’t seen him in months and I had missed him so much. I felt so safe and loved as dad cooed me and stroke my hair, and I couldn’t help but cry my eyes out as I pressed my face into his crisp Navy uniform.
“Hey,” and suddenly a familiar voice spoke from behind dad. I pulled away and my eyes widened instantly.
“Blake?” I gaped. Blake Harrison was standing in my living room.
What? How did I even miss that?
“Your friend came by looking for you, so we asked him to stay for dinner,” mom spoke this time. “You never told me about this friendof yours,”
“Ah… he’s… well,” I was mumbling like an idiot as mom and dad waited patiently for me to continue.
Blake must have noticed the helpless look on my face as he coughed and took a step forward, stretching his hand out to dad.
“Mr. and Mrs. Williams, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Allow me to introduce myself, I’m Blake Harrison, Taya’s boyfriend,”
“Your what?” Kai spat out his water as the rest of the room went silent.
“And since we’re all here… I wanted to ask for your permission,” Blake said again, looking to mom and dad. He moved a step over to me and his hand snaked around to grip mine.
“I would like to date your daughter,”
I gasped instantly and Kai had the biggest shock on his face. Dad turned his head over to mom in confusion, who just shrugged and smiled at him. Dad then turned to me, then to Blake, and then back to me. He searched my face and I just smiled sheepishly at him, not knowing what else to do at this point.
I knew it was messed up, what I had said to Blondie when she came looking for me. But I had to get her out of there, Castro’s was no place for someone like her. She came right before we started the meeting, so thankfully she hadn’t heard anything yet. If she had come in just minutes after, she might not have been allowed to leave. Ever.
And I saw that damn look on Max’s face. Don’t get me started on that. Even from the first time he saw her, I knew he liked her. She was his type—feisty, beautiful, and a loudmouth. I couldn’t let that motherfucker lay his eyes on Taya and she should never have come.
After she left, Max was pestering me with questions about her. I tried dodging it as much as I could, saying all sorts of things that hopefully wouldn’t peak his interest in her even more. Quickly, I changed the topic back to our meeting instead and we moved on, talking about business stuff.
When I finally left Castro’s for the day, the sun was already setting. I thought I was making my way home, but somehow I found myself in Blondie’s neighborhood.
It was my bike, it wasn’t me. I swear.
I didn’t mean to be a creep, but I just happened to pass by. And okay, maybe I wanted to see her. Maybe I could bring myself to say sorry and to warn her never to come near Castro’s again.
But, as I was nearing her house, I noticed a familiar car parked outside. My fists clenched instinctively as I knew damn well whose car it was. I didn’t stop my bike and I just kept on riding in a slower speed.
As I passed by her house, I stole a glance over through the big windows and I noticed the family was having dinner together. There was an older guy there in a Navy uniform sitting next to Blondie’s mom and brother, he must be their dad... And of course Golden Boy was there... And Blondie too... She looked lovely. They all looked so picturesque. So happy. So fucking perfect.
While I’m just the creep passing by her window.