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The Good Grief

T A Y A

I had to do a double look, making sure that it was in fact Blake Harrison who was standing right in front of me, in front of Judah’s house. I was so shocked to see him, but the craziest thing was that he wasn’t even surprised at all to see me. As if he was already expecting me to be there.

“Hey,” he said calmly.

“Uh… hi. What are you doing here?”

“I came to find you. I was following you, all through town,” he explained, pausing for a beat as he said, “Can we talk?”

“Following me all around town? That’s kind of creepy, Blake,” I narrowed my eyes at him, “No, actually that’s just creepy,”

“Yeah. I guess you can say I’m desperate. I just can’t take it anymore. I need to speak to you… it’s important,”

“Okay… Well, actually, I’ve been wanting to talk to you too,” I said as I took a step closer to him and closed the door behind me.

“You do?”

“Yeah. I feel bad about the way things went down between us. We broke up and days later, I got together with Judah…“

“We didn’t break up. You broke up with me. You didn’t even give me a chance,”

“I’m sorry,”

“I’ve waited, you know? For days and weeks, I was waiting. I thought you might be coming around. I can’t believe you’d move on, just like that, as if we meant nothing,” Blake trashed his head to the side as his hand went to rake his hair in frustration.

“I know your favorite color’s pink and your favorite food is the loco moco from Zippy’s. You think I don’t know you, Taya, but I do. And for weeks all I did was replaying it over and over in my head, what went wrong with us, and what I could’ve done differently to get you to stay... Look, I know I’m not a perfect boyfriend, to be honest I don’t even know what I’m doing most of the time. But I do like you, a lot. I still do. And I want you back—“

“Blake, stop, please,” I knew I had to stop him. This was painful to do, but I had to do it.

“Blake, I’m sorry, but the thing is… it was always Judah. It was always him from the start. I thought I could love you the way I love him, but I can’t… I’m sorry that it had to be like this…”

I never meant to hurt Blake. I knew I had to be honest with him, at least now, and put him out of his misery. He deserved to move on and find someone that was right for him.

“You love him?” he croaked.

I nodded my head and he glanced away, unable to look at me in the eyes.

“Why?” he said after a while of silence.

“I don’t know why… that’s just the way I feel,”

“Why him? Why?” he asked again, his tone slightly higher than before.

“I don’t know… he just… gets me. Like no one does,” I found myself stuttering as I didn’t know how to explain it words, “And I get him,”

“You don’t even know who he is,” he snorted a wry laugh as if to mock me.

“I do,”

“You don’t,” he was being so persistent about this.

“What do you mean?”

“Ask him about his dad,” he said suddenly.

“Huh?”

“Ask him,” he pressed on.

“His dad’s passed away,” I said, as that was the only thing I knew about Judah’s father.

“Is that what he said?” Blake had one eyebrow raised and suddenly he started laughing.

“Oh, that’s hilarious,” he said in between laughs, “And you believe him?”

“Of course, why would I not?” I gave him a puzzled look, but he just kept on shaking his head and laughing away.

“Have you ever seen the grave?”

“Well, no, but—“ I was getting tired of trying to figure this out, so I asked point-blankly, “Blake, What are you trying to say?”

“He’s a liar, Taya. He’s just using you to get back at me,”

“Why would he use me to get back at you?”

“Because he’s my father’s bastard son,”

“What?”

For a second there, I thought Blake was joking. I was waiting for him to start laughing again and say that he was just kidding. But he just stood there with a cold and stoic expression on his face.

“His father is not dead. His father is… my father,” he said again through gritted teeth, as if the words were painful to say.

“Did you know that he used to live here when he was young? Yeah, he and his mother lived here before. His mother had an affair with my dad, knowing that my dad was a happily married man. Nine months later, he was born, Jaden Drew Harrison. That’s his real name,”

Unconsciously, the images started flashing through my head: Blake’s dad, Judah’s mom, and little baby Judah…

“That whore had the audacity to use my father’s last name on his birth certificate too,” he scoffed in disgust.

Judah… my Judah. The little kid that I used to play with in the playground…

“Now you see what’s happening here? He’s back to seek vengeance. Changed his name and got himself mixed up with some tough crowd. He wants to destroy me and my family, because that’s the one thing he can’t have,”

Judah… the boy that came and stole my heart like he warned me he would.

“He’s lying to you and he’s just using you,” Blake stated.

Judah… who had promised that he’d be honest with me no matter what.

“Life hasn’t been exactly kind to him… especially with what happened with his father… he’s been through a lot of pain and anger,” Jenny’s voice echoed in my head.

“Dead,” Judah said casually when I asked him about his father once.

“It’s my fault,”Jenny said.

“My dad was a contractor. He worked on this house. We dreamt that someday the three of us would live here, my dad, my mom, and I,” Judah said when he took me to the abandoned house at the cliff.

Everything was spinning; all the images, the memories, and the words that were spoken between us. Which ones were true, which ones weren’t? I didn’t even know anymore.

“No, you’re lying,” I found myself saying to Blake.

“I’m not lying, it’s the truth. Ask him,”

“Why? Why are you telling me all this?”

“Because I’m trying to protect you. I care about you, Taya, I love—“

“Stop. Whatever you’re trying to do, just stop. I’m sorry Blake, but I love him. Only him. And nothing you say will ever change that,” I shook my head at him.

Because I know he loves me too. I know he does. Judah… Jaden or whatever his name is. I know he loves me. He has to.

The longer I stood there and thought about everything, the more it didn’t make sense. There was only one person that I trust, and he was the only one that could clear everything up for me. So without giving it a second thought, I shoved past Blake and ran to the streets.

“Taya! Wait!” Blake called out to me, but I wasn’t stopping.

I had made a decision that I wasn’t gonna hear another word from Blake until I could find him. My Judah.




After turning the corner, I spotted a taxicab and I immediately got on it. I could still hear Blake calling after me, but I just didn’t care.

My mind was a mess. I was trying to piece everything together, all the things that had happened. That explained it: the rivalry between Judah and Blake, how Jenny always blamed herself for how Judah turned out, and why Judah thought that I wouldn’t want him.

“My dad was a contractor…” Judah said about his dad once.

Of course, I remembered now, Mr. Harrison started out as a contractor before he expanded his business. Before he owned half the island, he dabbled in property, building up homes, apartments, and hotels.

“Yeah, I’m trash,” Judah said to Blake at the hallway that time.

I thought he was just joking, making fun of himself like he always did. But there was a deeper meaning there.

“On what planet would you ever have feelings for someone like me?! There’s no way you’d ever want me. I mean, given the option of me and him—,”

Judah wasn’t chosen. Mr. Harrison chose his family and not Jenny and Judah. He had to go through all that as a little child. It definitely messed him up. He became the kid that didn’t know how to handle his pain and anger. And so he turned to fighting, smoking, alcohol, and drugs…

I had been calling Judah’s phone nonstop as I was en-route to Castro’s, but his phone was completely off. That gnawing feeling in my stomach came back again. I was worried, sick, and confused—everything all at once.

Despite everything though, I still believed that Judah meant no harm. He had his reasons for not telling me. Although my first instinct was to explode and get mad at him for lying to me again, my anger had died down by the time I reached Castro’s. I wanted to hear his side of the story first, and then I would decide if I should explode or not.

I didn’t even stop as the bouncer in front of Castro’s asked me for my ID, I just went right in, causing a bit of a ruckus. The guy was trying to get me out, while I just ran inside, shoving past the sea of people as I went.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow your horse there,” suddenly I heard a voice, and I turned around to see Ava.

“Hey! You! You have to get outta here,” the bouncer finally caught up to me, but I slapped his hand away as he tried to grab me.

“Fuck off!” I hissed.

“It’s alright, she’s with me,” Ava said to the bouncer, and he gave me one last deadly glare before strutting towards the door.

“Where’s Judah? I need to see him,” I should probably have started with a ‘hey’ or a ‘thank you’, but I was too impatient at this point.

“He’s not here. He went out with Max,” she said simply and she turned to her heels, walking towards the bar. I found myself following her involuntarily.

“Where did they go?”

“I don’t know,” she chirped.

“Please! I need to speak to him, it’s important,”

“Well, maybe you shouldda kept a better eye on your man,” she rolled her eyes in annoyance and it just lit a fire in me.

“I’m not playing around with you, where the hell is he?” I snapped as I slammed the bar table with my fist, causing a few people to look over to us.

“I told you, I don’t know where they went,” she spat back.

Trying to get her to speak was pointless. Letting out a frustrated sigh, I decided to walk away and search for him myself. Maybe he would be around here somewhere.

“Hey, wait a second,” suddenly she called out to me.

“What?”

“You really care about him?”

There was something in the way she asked that question to me. There was a glint of sadness and worry in her eyes as she spoke.

“Of course I do,”

“Then there’s something I need to tell you,”

What is it with people telling me things about Judah today? Seems like everyone in the entire world knows him better than me.

“I don’t have time for this right now, I need to find him first—“

“Listen to me, he’s going to make the biggest mistake of his life. Someone has to stop him,” Ava cut me off quickly, her tone of voice was unreservedly serious. “Maybe you’re the only one that can,”

“What are you saying?”

“Follow me,” she said as she motioned her head to the back room.

Should I do it? I mean, I could die here. She could kill me.

Despite my survival instinct, I knew that Ava had something important to tell me, and it revolved around Judah. So, against all my better judgment, I decided to follow her to the back room, passing by a couple tough-looking guys that stood guard just right outside.

As soon as I stepped into the room, she locked the door behind me and made her way over to the desk. She raided the bottom drawer, searching through a heap of papers, before she finally pulled out a large brown envelope.

“Look, I don’t have time for games. Just tell me, what is it?” I pressed, as I was growing more and more impatient.

“I could be outside, looking for my boyfriend right now,” I said again, and the word ‘boyfriend’ had a bit of an impact on Ava. I could tell.

“You think I’m playing games with you, right now? Trust me, you’re the last person I want to spend my Friday night with. But this isn’t about us,” she retorted back, pausing for a second before saying, “it’s about your boyfriend,”

She threw the envelope on the desk, and the things inside were scattered out. There were blueprints, photographs, and other documents in there. I didn’t know what to make of it.

“Judah and Max are planning one last heist, and I’m afraid Judah might end up killing the guy,” Ava said as her fingers raked through the papers. For the first time since I’ve seen her, the strong and fierce Ava now looked somewhat… afraid.

“That’s not possible. Judah’s not working for Max anymore,” I stated.

“He’s not working for Max. They’re working together since they have a common enemy this time,”

She picked up a black and white photograph from the pile of papers and handed it over to me.

“Their target is James Michael Harrison,”

Wait. No. That’s… Blake’s father.

And his…


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