REALLY

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The Silver Lining

T A Y A


“Are you real right now? Or are you a figment of my imagination?” I blinked my eyes a few times and I was holding back my breath, waiting for his response.

“Come on down and find out,” he said simply.

My feet turned on its heels instinctively. I was feeling a mixed of emotions as I ran down the staircase on the side—angry, happy, confused, relieved, everything all at once.

“Judah…?” I stopped as I finally reached the last step down.

“Wow, you look… amazing,“ he shook his head from side to side as he studied me, “Love what you did with your hair,”

It really was him, nonchalant and cool as always. But I was not cool. I couldn’t contain it anymore. Tears rolled down my face and my hand went to cover my mouth in disbelief. I wanted to speak but I was rendered speechless. I had so many things I wanted to say. Too many. I wanted to scream and yell at him too. But everything fell away the moment I saw his face again.

“Hey, why are you crying?” he said as he closed in on me.

His arms stretched out as he was about to hug me, but I quickly stepped back and shoved him away instead.

“You left me! You just left me. I’ve been waiting… for you for so long… you don’t even know,” I said in between sobs, my fists kept pushing him back by his chest.

“I know, I’m sorry,”

“Sorry’s not gonna fix this, Judah! You have a lot of explaining to do and I will not just accept ’do you trust me’ as an answer!”

“Yes, okay, I will explain everything. But first…”

He took out a lighter from his pocket and lit up the single candle planted on the cupcake he was holding. He was all smiles and acting all cute, while I was an angry and crying mess.

“What the hell are you doing?” I sighed.

“It’s my birthday. I want my girl to wish me a happy birthday,”

“Are you serious?” I gaped.

He went missing for two weeks and he came back all of a sudden and asked me to wish him a happy birthday, I mean, the audacity of this boy!And is it really his birthday…?

“I’m gonna make a wish now,” he said as he closed his eyes for a few seconds. When he opened his eyes next, the candle went out with one quick blow from him.

“There, my wish came true,” he said as he looked right at me.

Smooth as always.

He leaned his head down, his lips aiming for mine. But I wasn’t about to give in so easily. I put my hand on his chiseled jaw, holding him back from coming after me. I gave him a look too, a don’t-try-me look.

“Aw, come on, it’s bad luck to not kiss your boyfriend on his birthday,” he pouted.

“Judah, I swear, I’m not joking right now—“ I persisted, and he cut me off.

“Alright, alright. I’ll talk. Here, you can have my cake,”

He handed that cupcake over to me and I must say, it looked pretty damn good.

“Bribing a girl with chocolate cupcake,” I rolled my eyes as I took the cupcake away from him, “It’s a good start. Keep going,” I muttered, and he responded by snorting a laugh.

I took a small bite of that cupcake while my eyes were locked on him. He knew he wasn’t getting away that easily. Shoving his hands in his pocket, he let out a long sigh.

“Okay…” he trailed, “So I’m assuming you’ve found out that I’m the bastard of Winterfell,”

“Judah,” I hissed and slapped his chest one more time. I thought he was actually being serious too.

“Okay, woman, stop hitting me. It doesn’t hurt and it’s just gonna turn me on,”

“Judah, I’ve had it with your—“ I was about to shout this time, but he quickly put his hands up in an act of surrender.

“Sorry, humor is my defense mechanism. Okay, I’ll talk now, come sit with me,” he sat on the bench by the swimming pool and patted the side of it, gesturing for me to come follow him.

Letting out a deep breath and one final eye roll, I went over and sat next to him. He looked up to the sky and sucked in a breath of air. I could tell it wasn’t easy for him to say what he was about to say. Turning his face to me, he let out the breath he was holding and he started to speak.

“Alright, let’s see… yeah, so I am James Harrison’s bastard son. My mom and him dated, and at the time she knew that he was a married man, but he also said that he was going through a divorce. She believed him of course, you’ve met my mom, she’s way too naïve. Anyway, turns out, he never got a divorce and he was playing her all along. I was an unplanned child, but mom said that he was happy when he first found out she was pregnant. He started having all these dreams… that someday we would all live together in a mansion… we were gonna be this happy family… but one day, when I was seven, mom found out that he’d been lying to her. Not only that he was still married, he also had a son and a daughter with his wife, around my age and younger than me. Mom was crushed and they ended it. But somehow, his wife found out about the affair and she started terrorizing my mom. She came to our house, yelled at us, spread rumors all around town, until finally my mom and I had to leave the island. We moved to California to live with my grandma,”

His eyes looked distant as he spoke, as if he was reliving all these moments through his words. And I was seeing my own reflection in his eyes, imagining as if I was there, seeing all that he was seeing.

“I never talked to my dad since. Sometimes I’d search him up on the internet and all these news articles would come out. He became quite a successful man. Got a lovely family too. While I was just forgotten like yesterday’s trash. Mom was having her own issues too. Going from one man to another. It wasn’t pretty. Sometimes her boyfriend would beat me up or whatever. We both were trying our best, and it just wasn’t working out. I started getting mixed up with drugs and alcohol and you know what happened… I became who I am. Got myself kicked out of school several times. I got no reason for living. Until… like a year ago, my grandma passed away. She was sick. Before she died, she told my mom and I that her last wish was to see us both get better. So after her death, my mom and I decided to do it together. We moved over here for a new start. And also because we got nowhere else to go. We didn’t own that house that grandma was living in back in California,”

He let out a long sigh as his eyes darted back up the sky. I followed his gaze and we just stared at the dark night for a little bit. The moon and stars were staring right back at us.

“That night, it was a full moon. My mom and I just moved back here a couple weeks prior. For days all I did was think about my dad. I hadn’t seen him in ten years. He never went looking for us too. It wasn’t like we were hard to find. But I guess he just never wanted to find us. I was curious. I wondered how he was doing. What he looked like. So I started asking around, and soon enough I got his home address. I decided to go to his house that night, well it wasn’t really a house, it was a goddamn mansion. When I got there, there was this party going on that his son was throwing. He wasn’t home, of course. So I started walking around the house, and I saw the family pictures. They look mighty fine in them portraits. They took family trips to Paris, he went to his son’s football games, and he was at his daughter’s dance recital. He picked the better family, I suppose. With all that in mind, I wasn’t gonna stay around, I was gonna head home and drown myself in my own pity-party. But they also had free booze, so I stuck around for a bit. And I was just minding my own damn business, standing below this window, when suddenly an angel fell on me,”

He let out a chuckle and I couldn’t help but smile as I remembered that particular moment. The night when we met.

“Funny how things just fall into place, huh?” He said as he turned to me. His eyes shone like never before.

“And you know what happens next. I helped you become the most amazing kisser in the world and all that jazz,” he smiled knowingly.

I had to bit my lip to stop myself from smiling too much. Judah was such a charmer, he could get away with murder if he wanted to. Oh wait—that reminds me.

“So, what happened with Max in Nevada?”

“Impatient as always,” he laughed, and I just glared at him.

“Well, the plan was to go down there, set up a meeting with James Harrison using Castro’s as a pawn, and blackmail him for money. I would put a gun over his head while he writes us a check. It wasn’t the best plan, but I went along with it because one thing intrigues me: the chance to confront my dad. At first I didn’t really care of the consequences. So many things can go wrong. He might have bodyguards or called security, or maybe he carries a gun of his own. He might refuse to write that check and I might have to use actual force… That’s why I can’t really tell you anything back then. If something bad happens, I don’t ever want you to be dragged into it,”

He wasn’t looking at me when he said all these things, he was looking away, but through those glassy eyes I could tell that he was being sincere.

“I’ve thought of the scenario over and over again in my head. After everything that we’ve gone through, I can’t not care about the consequences. I wanna have a long, long future with you. So, when it was time for Max and I to go out there and carry out the mission, I decided to change the plan entirely. I ditched Max and sneaked out on my own and I went to see my dad. And we just… talked,”

“Talked?”

“Yeah, I carried the gun for moral support though,”

“What did you guys talked about?”

“I told him about Max and what he was planning to do and that he should get away for a while to get out of Max’s radar. So he invited me to come and stay with him at his lodge house up in the mountains. We spent about a week there together. Even went fishing too at the lake. It was… nice,”

Judah’s mood turned bright and chirpy as he started talking about fishing with his dad.

“But that wasn’t my only plan. I decided to ask him for something else. The deed to the land out on the cliff. He gave it to me. And he also gave me a check, some long zeros in it too. I dropped the check at Max’s before I came here,”

“And what are you gonna do with the land on the cliff? Rebuild the house?”

“Nah, that was my dream before, but now I got new dreams,” he said as he shook his head, “I’m gonna sell it. Use half the money to get my mom her own diner. And I’ll use the rest to go to college in California with my girlfriend,”

“What?”

“Yeah, are you at least proud of me? I’ve thought of everything,” he shook his head and gave me a bright smile, “Ha, I guess, my dad was right. He said I was cunning, got his blood in me,”

“Judah…”

“So there, that’s everything that I never told you,”

He swallowed hard as he turned to me, hanging anxiously at my response.

“Judah, you should have just told me everything from the start. I would have… understood,” my voice came out soft and sad.

He looked at me with fire in his eyes. With gritted teeth, he then took my hand in his and held it tight.

“Taya, when I first met you, I had nothing in my life except what came from being a fraud. So of course, I was scared to tell you anything. But you just took me in, no questions asked. You don’t know how much that means to me… You don’t know how much you mean to me. I would never do anything that would put you in harm. But the truth is… I am a fraud. I’m broken. I’m a liar. I’m a scumbag. This is the truth… this is me”

His eyes glanced down to my hand in his, taking a few deep breaths, he then looked back up at me.

“Do you still want me?”

His voice was trembling a little as he spoke. And I found myself lost, staring at my own reflection in his eyes.

All my life I had been searching for that unconditional love. That amazing love that I’ve read in books or seen in movies. The kind of love that just doesn’t give up. Love so relentless, so reckless, and beautiful.

All my life I’ve waited for that love. But turns out, that love was with me all along. Just maybe I wasn’t supposed to be the one receiving it, maybe I was supposed to be the one giving it.

“Judah, do you even trust me?” I said, and he was taken aback.

“What?”

“You can’t hide things from me just because you want to protect me, you hear me? I can protect myself. So, don’t think that you can’t share things with me because I won’t be able to handle it, because I can handle it,”

He looked so nervous and afraid as he heard me speak. So I reached my hand up to his face, my fingers landed gently on his cheek. Tilting my head slightly, I started tracing circles on his beautiful face.

“You always ask me to trust you, well now I’m asking you to trust me too. With all your secrets, your baggage, your mess, and everything. Because I want it all. Because it’s you. And I want you, Judah. All of you,”

“Taya, I… I…” he was stuttering his words, and it was the first time I had ever seen him like this. It was kind of cute.

“I love you,” he said finally and my heart swelled like never before.

“I love—hey!” I was about to say the words back to him when my eyes noticed something, the silver tie that he was wearing.

“This is the tie that I got you! I thought you said you lost it?”

“I didn’t lose it. How could I? It’s the most precious thing anyone ever gave me,” he paused for a beat before saying, “That night, I was late because I spent thirty minutes watching Youtube videos on how to tie a tie. No one ever taught me how to do it. I just told you I lost it because… it was embarrassing,”

I shook my head and smiled. And he smiled sheepishly back.

“Okay. From now on, no more lies,” I said as I lifted my pinky finger up.

“No more secrets,” he said as he lifted his.

“No more games,” I said as I twirled his finger with mine.

“Maybe just a little game,” he winked.

“Judah!”

“Kidding,” he said as he pulled me close.

He looked down at me and I looked up at him. I was lost again in his eyes and I believed he was lost in mine too. We were lost in each other, but also found, if that made sense.

“You’re the only thing that matters to me and that’s the truth. So come on, kiss me like you believe in me,” he said softly to my ears.

His eyes and his smile were so undeniably alluring. Without giving it a second thought, I leaped into his arms, kissing him on his lips, and pushing him back in the process. He lost his balance and the both of us fell, splashing down into the pool.

I was shocked for a moment, my first instinct was to swim up for air. But Judah pulled me down and he just smiled at me. His hair was waving from side to side in the water, and his eyes held a playful glint as he pulled me closer.

His lips found mine again and I was no longer breathing, literally. My hands were on his face, his hands were on my waist. We were dancing around in zero gravity, lips locked, and hearts bursting into flames.

When we finally came up for air, we couldn’t stop laughing and smiling at each other.

“Maybe some games are okay,” I said through my laugh, and his eyes lit up when I said that.

“Still game if you are?” he said, smirking.

Cocking his head to the side, he let out his hand to me. I took his hand and he pulled me into him, instantly and effortlessly.

And so we kissed, drowning in water and high in love.


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To be continued


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