Get it together, Rosalie! I yell to myself.
I splash my face with cold water over and over.
It’s only the next day and all I can think about is that guy. My mind swirls around his existence. His toxic words from last night replay and scatter in my brain.
The things I do to you is up to me...
I shake my head. The things that happened between us... is questionable. How could he be interested in me? I have absolutely nothing to offer.
Judah owns eyes filled with danger. I’m always thinking about him, although I shouldn’t. He just spun my world, and I’m disoriented. I stare at my red-hot face in the mirror. Sighing, I get dressed and leave my dorm.
I drag my feet down the steps. As I reach the main door, Everest and his team of friends stand around. We make an awfully long eye contact. I’m afraid he might try to come and talk to me, so I quicken my pace.
“Hey, Rosalie,” he calls.
I groan internally and keep walking. I reach the pavement, and he’s next to me.
“Hi, Everest,” I simply say.
“Haven’t seen you in a while.”
I shrug my shoulders, “I’ve been busy.”
It doesn’t sound like a big fat lie. I keep walking down the hill, hoping he’ll join his friends soon. I even contemplate on the idea of calling Judah over to get Everest off my tail.
“Really?” he questions, “A few days ago, I saw you with that, um, guy. Same guy from the club. I wasn’t sure if you knew him.”
I look over to Everest and frown. Is he talking about Judah? What for? The trees are bare. Wet snow is all around.
“Yeah, I know him,” I reply rather boldly, “Why do you care?”
“It’s just...” he starts, “I’ve heard a lot of things about guys like him, you know.”
“You don’t know him,” I say bluntly. I can’t believe I’m defending Judah right now. I take bigger strides. “And I don’t care about what you’ve heard.”
He grabs my arm, stopping me in my tracks. I immediately pull back, nearly losing my balance. Everest sighs and shoves his hands in his pockets. I watch vapor escape his mouth.
“Those kind of guys are mobsters, Rosalie. The ones on the news,” he blabs.
I give him a solid frown, “You must think I’m really stupid.”
Some people pass us, walking their ways on the sidewalk. I make a short impatient laugh, fixing my bag pack on my shoulders. Everest just stares at me with a straight face.
“I have class,” I finally say.
He looks away, and I walk away.
I come back to my dorm from my last class of the semester. Next week are finals, and I don’t feel prepared at all. I walk around my room, pulling out all my textbooks and notebooks. Hopelessness takes over, when I start skipping pages. How am I going to catch up? I stress and cram information into my head within the late hour. I read all the highlighted text and go over complicated definitions. I don’t even opt to turn on some music.
The small moon in the sky reminds me that time is fleeting. I tap my pencil over the pages, planning on going to nun school.
Suddenly someone shortly knocks on my door. I stretch my legs and walk over to it. I swing it open.
My eyes meet a hunched Judah in a black hood. I gasp at the sight. I can’t believe he’s here. I take a good look at his dreary expression. He’s gained a black eye and a bloody lip.
“J-Judah...” I stutter.
He leans on the doorpost, looking exhausted.
“Yeah,” he says, licking his lip.
“W-what happened... to you?” I ask, looking him over.
He shakes his head, nonchalantly.
“Nothing that hasn’t happened before.”
I bite my lip, hesitating to approach him. I widen the door just a little, offering him to come inside. It would be a shame that he came all the way here, only for me to shut the door in his face, especially in his dire condition.
“Did you get in a fight?” I ask, helping him to sit.
“Something like that,” his voice cracks down.
I frown, feeling worried. Of course. What else did I expect this guy to say?
“Why’d you come here?” I ask.
He looks up at me with his bright grey eyes, “I called earlier.”
“Oh, sorry,” I mutter.
I turned off my phone for studying purposes. Now, I feel frustrated. Here I go again, forgetting that Judah is my biggest distraction from school. If I continue, I’ll fail just about everything.
I watch him push his hood back, as if it’s now safe to do so. I shift on my feet, unsure what to do or say.
“Well, I—I want to say that, uh,” I mix up my words. I breathe. “I really don’t think we should keep seeing each other.”
Judah looks away, shoving his curled up fists in his pockets.
“You’re right. I’ll leave,” he says, limping back to the door.
I go through a deep guilt trip and rush to his side.
“W-wait, you’re hurt,” I rest my hand on his arm.
“Me? No,” he breathes out, shaking his head.
“Just wait,” I tell him, “You can stay—if you want. It’s just...”
“I’d appreciate it if you’d just spit it out,” he raises a brow.
I frown at him, “Never mind.”
My heart beats too fast to make words clear. His smirk appears, despite his predicament. I can never understand him.
“Then do me a favour,” he tells me huskily, sitting back on my bed and twinkling a wink. He licks his dry lips and taunts me with his stare. “And play nurse.”
The look I get from Judah is the same look the serpent tempted Eve with. Nothing innocent is written on his face. His mischievous smirk challenges me. I regret letting him stay for a second longer. My kindness, I figure, will be abused... among other things.
Before I can process his outlandish request and step back for my safety, Judah pulls me closer to him. My knees land on either side of him, over the mattress. Knowing I’ll never win a battle against this man, I don’t fight back.
“It’s okay,” he says, “I’ll behave.”
“I-I just said I don’t want to be with you,” I express with hesitation.
His brow points upward and his eyes gaze over my quivering lip.
“And you think I care. Cute.”
I frown, deciding to be firmer. His existence gets me nervous. Our proximity makes everything unbearable. I stare at the bridge of his nose. My eyes trail down his lips. How am I going to survive? Judah shreds away the inches between us. His hands rub against my thighs.
“Nurse,” he calls me with a husky voice. He then whispers, “Kiss me ’till I get better.”
I’m not sure how, but my insides are hypnotized by his grey stare. I take a deep breath, inhaling his smoky air, feeling the nervousness turn into an exhilarating thrill. A rush I can’t explain. I’m doing something bad and I know it. No matter how hard I try to resist Judah... I can’t.
Feeling drowsy under his rough touch, my eyelids lower, welcoming his hot breaths that caresses my skin. I lean into him slightly.
Judah’s toxic lips savour my small kiss, deepening it, making it dangerous. His hands travel down my back, pressing his burning fingertips in my spine. In agreement, my inexperienced hands explore his chest underneath his sweater, feeling the ripples of his solid abs. God, he’ll certainly be the death of me. I could stop this, before I get hurt.
I abruptly pull away from the devil. He’s no longer amused.
“So what happened?” I ask, fluttering my eyes open.
He looks away for a moment, as though thinking things through.
“You don’t need to know,” he says slowly.
“Just tell me,” I press, raising my tone.
Then, he grips my small waist harshly, nearly crushing it. I have to hold my breath. We severely stare at each other forever. His face tells me I’ve pissed him off. He’s got a short fuse. His fingers dig into my skin to the point where I can’t take it. I hold his wrists.
“It’s not important,” he replies.
I press my lips in a tight line, trying to pull his squeezing hands off me.
“Judah—you’re hurting me,” I whimper.
He lets go. I exhale. I rub my sides, knowing that I’ll bruise blue in a quick minute. I give him a bitter and unforgiving look.
“You didn’t have to do that,” I scowl, pushing his chest.
Judah sets his hands on the bed and leans back a bit. He doesn’t seem like he realizes how hard he was gripping me, nor does he seem apologetic about it. I can see his smirk slowly forming, like he’s back to normal.
“I do a lot of things I don’t need to.”
Aggravated, I back up off of his lap and stand to my feet. But Judah stops me by tugging the end of my shirt.
“Stay,” he says in a low voice.
I open my mouth to speak, but he looks down. I think a little harder. Something tells me he’s hurting more than my waistline right now. I can tell that he’s conflicted, switching expressions and all. The longer I stay standing, the more he clutches my shirt. His knuckles turn white.
I decide to give in. I let him pull me back into him. He wraps his arms around me and drops us onto my bed. It’s quiet. I only hear our breathing.
“I lost a friend tonight,” Judah starts quietly.
I try to widen my hearing abilities. I don’t move a muscle, anticipating. I know it’s not everything. But he’s saying something to me. Something about him. Whatever it is, I make it a task to listen carefully. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t mean he’s fallen out with an old friend of his. Knowing who he really is and the dangerous world he lives in, I read between the lines. My arms slowly circle around him.
“This night feels so long,” Judah whispers, looking into my eyes, “I want to wake up in the morning, Rose.”
I lightly nod my head, understanding what he’s saying and how he’s feeling.
There’s a blizzard in the morning. The strong whistling winds blow against my thin window. It shakes now and then. It’s cold inside. My hand runs along Judah’s icy inked skin. It has barely been an hour since I’ve woken up in his arms. He’s still asleep, I think. His eyes are closed and his breathing is steady. I like being so close to him. I stare at his perfect solid face, although it’s bruised.
I wonder how he got caught up in this dangerous life. I wonder if he has regrets. How much does it hurt to be so close to death over petty things like drugs and money? How much is he hurting if he has to fight sleep and run awake? Something in me feels for him and wishes I could make it better somehow.
Suddenly, Judah’s phone buzzes non-stop in his pocket. In a few seconds, his eyes spilt open.
“Answer it,” I advise.
He doesn’t move. He doesn’t reach for it. So it stops ringing. I want to ask him if he’s alright, but I know he’s not keen towards questions. I watch Judah stretch his long arms and lift himself off my small bed. He rubs his face, flexing his triceps and reaching for his sweater. He pulls out a box of cigarettes. He selects one and quickly lights it up. Opening the window isn’t something that can be done. Also, the dorm probably has smoke detectors nearby. I wouldn’t want them to go off. I sit up and criss-cross my legs.
I take a deep breath, before his fumes choke me. His phone buzzes all over again. I glance at his pocket side and back to his face. He acts like he hears and feels nothing. I try not to show my curiosity. The room is back to being completely quiet. Judah blows out thick white smoke. It lingers in the air like a ghost.
“You asked me once if I killed a man,” Judah says with his slim death stick hanging off his plush pink lips, “Kill, steal, lie, cheat... I’ve done it all. It’s my fucking job.”
The back of my eyes burn and hot tears sit on the ledge of my lower lids. My knees shake sporadically. I sit on my bed silently. Judah files on his sweater. I stare at him. He’s confirmed everything I wanted to be untrue. My heart aches more than I can handle. Just when I thought about falling for him...
He eyes me, lowering his brows. God must be sleeping. How is He not seeing this and not saving me? I swallow hard and return Judah’s stare.
“It’s okay if you hate me,” he smirks now, “Just not for too long.”
He walks out the door, dragging his smoke with him.
It’s become a ritual to think of Judah. I don’t seem to care about anything else.
I brush my teeth and decide to go to bed, after watching TV episodes I missed. My hand pushes the light switch off. My tired body curls up in my small squeaky bed, underneath the sheets.
All of a sudden, the sound of my phone beeping reaches my ears. My arm around in the dark for it. The screen blinds me with a new message.
It’s Judah. I feel like setting myself on fire.
I read the time. It’s 11:07pm.
No, I won’t go over there, I decide. My fingers text back a solid no. I don’t plan on getting in trouble with this man. He’s too troublesome. But then my stomach gets queasy at the whole new thought of Judah. I can’t ignore him. I’ve never been given such strength.
I heavily crawl out of bed. Why does he want to see me? Right, he’s bored and wants something to play with. I crawl back into bed.
My phone beeps again.
I frown in annoyance. What could he possibly want now? I put my thoughts on hold and kick the sheets away, scooting out of my bed. I think for a minute. I rub my eyes, while the butterflies grow inside my stomach.
My eyes stare at the single word printed on the screen. I can almost hear his deep, dark voice in my ears.
What am I supposed to gain by spending a late night with Judah?
I push my luck and take the risk.