“Good evening. Tonight’s top story is about several Mafia shootings in the downtown area, leaving 17 men dead and 25 injured—it’s described to be the worst shooting this month. Our reporter Sheryl Edwards is tracking the story. Sheryl is live on the scene with the very latest. Sheryl.”
Sheryl’s blond head appears on the TV screen. She holds the microphone closer to her mouth.
“Very few details at this hour, Tom. We now know that high power rifles were used in this attack—and one of the bullets hit an electrical panel beside this gas station, which knocked out power on the entire block, as well as the security cameras. Authorities say they hope that whatever was captured on those security cameras will eventually help them find the gunmen.”
The scene cuts to a close up of a club. Everything there looks broken up.
“Bullet holes dot the side of this 77 Nightclub—shattered glass cover the ground, where 42 people were shot overnight. Authorities now call the attack, with high power rifles, gang related. Police say it all started here in a gas station on East highway, which then spurred more shootings inside this nightclub, around one o’clock this morning. A man and a woman were sitting in a white car next to the nightclub, when someone in another car started shooting at them—some bystanders were caught in the attack.”
Then, an investigator says, “They were in the line of fire, behind the vehicle that was the actual target of assault.”
“The suspects took off. Some were taken to a hospital. Meanwhile, the two victims in the parked car tried to get away, as we observe tire tracks, perhaps to get help at the LAPD south station. However, the woman was found dead in the white car, strangled, a few blocks down. We still don’t know if it was done by the driver or somebody else. Many were found dead at the scene. One woman fled with a single bullet wound in her torso—she’s expected to survive.”
The camera focuses on the broken door of the club.
A middle aged man in a tacky purple suit shakes his head, “It’s going to happen again!”
“Mr. Luciano owns the 77 Nightclub, and says there needs to be more patrols in the area,” Sheryl speaks, as the camera pans over the messy street.
“We have to do something! We have to see what’s going on—they’re taking away everything, and controlling everything,” the club owner’s thick incoherent Italian accent comes through.
Sheryl continues the bad news, “One nightclub employee, who wishes to stay anonymous, describes the gun shots being fired a few feet from her and says violence like this makes it hard for her to feel safe.”
I turn off the TV, as soon as I hear Judah’s footsteps. Could this be why he decided to jump on a plane—so that he wouldn’t be part of that? At least that’s what I’m hoping for. That explanation helps me to believe that he’s human and that being by his side isn’t so bad.
When I turn, I see that he has a cigarette between his lips. He quickly draws it short and flicks in an ash tray.
I draw my knees up in the sofa, feeling a little too comfortable in this lush hotel suite. Exotic plants line up against the walls. Modern stones decorate the floor. Sheer curtains move in the breeze.
“What do you want to do?” Judah sits next to me on the leathery sofa.
Mexico City is right outside, under a sweltering sun.
I sigh, shrugging my shoulders. I’m not completely certain who or what he’s running from, but I’m glad that I’m by his side again.
“How about we get something to eat?” he suggests.
I grimace looking at my plain attire, “What am I supposed to wear?”
Judah motions his chin towards the bedroom.
“Go pick out something,” Judah says.
I tilt my brow up.
“Pick something out?” I pause, “There are clothes for me?”
“Don’t take too long. I’m hungry,” Judah smirks, leaning back into the comfort of the sofa.
I eye him, as I walk back in the room. He stretches his arm behind his head, flexing his tatted triceps in the process.
He sure knows how to be convenient. He makes one phone call and everything is always prepared. Booked penthouse, assortment of cigars and cigarettes, expensive wine already poured, closet full of high end fashion, even stuff custom made for me—I could go on.
When I open the closet, I sigh. I can’t just wear a t-shirt and jeans when I’m with Judah. I have to wear form-fitting dresses with brand name tags on them. I have to walk next to him with heels that could double as weapons.
The extravaganza makes me feel like a princess. But I can’t help wondering what Judah does to get so much money. I mean I know... It just gets me uneasy.
I reach for a short white Valentino dress and white strap heels. Looking myself over quickly in the mirror, I fix my pendant. After, I walk out the room and meet Judah, who’s scrolling through his phone.
“I’m starting to believe you like your phone more than me,” I comment lightheartedly.
Judah lifts his head and meets eyes with me. He only smirks, but I watch him drop his phone in his back pocket. I give him a smile, as he stares.
His hands tuck my hair behind my ears. I don’t know why, but I shake a bit every time I feel his touch.
“Let’s go,” he says.
After walking through the door, Judah takes me by the hand and laces our fingers together.
We descend in the elevators. I notice how Judah’s all in black and I’m in white. We’re really complete opposites. I keep staring at our reflection in the glassy mirror that I don’t notice Judah sneak a kiss on my cheek.
I blush like it’s all new to me, before the doors open. It always feels like that with Judah.
On the round-about, valet brings Judah a shiny new sports car.
A tall fountain puts on a water show, as we get in. Judah presses a button for the top to pull down.
Mexican wind blows through my hair, while I enjoy the warm weather. It’s way better than the snow and the cold back home.
Judah doesn’t respect traffic laws, and speeds down the boulevard and into the heart of the city.
Eventually, we park in front of a restaurant. I watch some people walk in with masks.
Judah reaches in the back seats and hands me my own mask.
“What’s this? A masquerade?” I ask.
“Just put it on,” he says, slipping his own over his face.
I sigh, heavily, realizing that this isn’t a date or anything. I’m just a tag-along to whatever job he has to do.
“So what’s going on?” I ask.
He only exits the car. I follow, walking slowly.
We enter the restaurant. The place is dim and only relies on natural light. It’s busy with customers and waiters. Judah doesn’t wait in line for a seat. He walks straight to the back.
I clutch his arm before he passes through a sketchy door. I know it’s nothing good.
“Why’d you bring me here?” I ask, feeling nervous at what might happen.
“So we can eat,” he answers.
I frown this time, “Cut the crap. What’s going on?”
I don’t know if it’s the mask muffling my speech, but Judah just ignores me and opens the door. There is a set of stairs going up. I tense up my muscles, anticipating some kind of dark gang on the other end.
Judah rests his hand below my back, leading me upwards. I hesitate.
But we end up on the roof, where there is a grand terrace. There is a table for two, all ornamented and set.
I couldn’t quite believe it. I glance back to Judah. It almost feels like a dream.
Up here, we get a bird’s-eye view of the center of Mexico and the festivities. I listen to the whistling, while looking at the fresh meal on the wooden table.
“This is for me?”
Judah walks behind a chair and pulls it out for me to sit. When did he turn into such a gentleman? My heart tries to go back to normal. His grey eyes make me blush.
“Do you like it?”
After dinner, the sun goes down. The whole night, I debated in my head whether or not I fully trusted Judah.
We drive in between narrow roads. I get distracted with the street lamps and the nightlife going on beyond the car window. He pulls up on an estate, where a party flares.
I watch Judah shut off the car. He looks over at me and reaches to fix my mask.
“Keep it on,” he tells me.
“Where are we?”
I knew he wouldn’t answer me. He jumps out and opens my door. I still have my guard up, because I never know what will happen. There is no right or wrong way to walk beside Judah—there’s only a dangerous way.
He takes me by the hand, and brushes his messy hair back.
The way he stands tall, as we walk inside the mansion, tells me he’s really up to something now.
People around dance obliviously to loud music. Elite men smoke fat cigars and chew caviar. Girls with short clothes on wrap their bodies around men’s arms. The scene grows eerie when the image of everybody in masks sinks in. It’s impossible to know who are behind them.
I feel Judah’s hand tighten a bit around me, as we skirt further. The smell of liquor alone is strong enough to get me drunk. I raise the back of my hand to cover my nose.
Suddenly, someone comes up to Judah.
“He’s up there,” is all they whisper through their mask.
Judah lifts his head, slightly glancing past his shoulder.
They exchange a short nod, before Judah replies, “Two minutes.”
I start getting cold sweats, because I know something bad is about to go down. Then we walk towards the curved stairs. Judah slows his steps down, leaning into my ear.
“When you get it, take it to the car,” he vaguely instructs.
I try to make sense of it. The anxiety builds up in my gut, once Judah joins a group of men in suits. If this place were a club, this spot would be the VIP room. A cloud of smoke hovers right above their heads. There are even bodyguards standing around the perimeter.
“Well if it isn’t Judah—” one of them chuckles.
“I’m not staying long,” Judah interrupts.
Without moving my head, I move my eyes in every direction. I see the ‘two-minute’ man across the balcony, with his hand behind him. I hold my breath, thinking he’s ready to pull out a gun within the next minute.
I desperately want to run out of here, but Judah’s got his hold on me.
“You should,” the chuckler invites, as he lifts his mask. “Have a few drinks.”
Judah lifts his own, as well. I lower my head. The chuckler pours a small glass of tequila. Judah accepts the offer, and they both take a shot. I’m pretty sure the other men around are just as uncomfortable as I am, because they cast their heads down, too. No one says anything. Chuckler grimaces his face at the harsh taste, but Judah only licks his lips and clears his throat.
“I’m going to ask you this once,” Judah says, “Where’s the USB key?”
Chuckler stares straight at Judah, his smile drawing down. My heart attacks me with nervousness.
Suddenly, all the bodyguards swarm around us, ready to fight. Judah gets me out of the way and knocks these menaces out cold. The other men get shot my two-minute guy. Chuckler makes a sudden run for it, tossing something over the balcony. Judah races after him. I’m forced to watch the men lie on the floor and bleed out.
The people downstairs panic after hearing so many gunshots. People are running out of the mansion like a herd of buffaloes.
I wonder if the USB key is what Judah meant by ‘it’. I rush down the stairs, taking brave breaths. My eyes scan the marble floor for the thing Chuckler tossed. But everyone is trampling and pushing their way out aggressively. I manage to join the crowd seamlessly. I get pushed down, but don’t stop searching for that thing.
Am I risking my life here? I don’t have a choice at this particular time. Ugh! So quick—how this dream turned back into a nightmare.
I see it. It’s under a bar chair. I crawl on all fours towards it, and grab it. I safely tuck it in my bra and mix myself in the panicked crowd.
A large hand grips my neck. I gasp, as my hand tries to pull the tight fingers off.
“Hand it over,” a voice growls behind me.
By this time, everyone had escaped. The mansion hall is empty. The screams dissipate.
Then a gunshot pierces my ears. I scream at the loudness. But I feel the hand behind me loosen and his body thuds to the floor. I cover my mouth, turning around.
Two-minute guy stands from above the balcony with a steaming gun in his hand. I don’t know whether to thank him or not. I just look at him for a second and take a breath, before running outside. I try my best to find Judah’s car. I jump in and lock all the doors.
My lungs pant. My hand massages my sore neck now.
After a long wait, Judah appears. Thankfully, he’s in one piece. He unlocks the door and sits in the driver’s seat.
I watch him pull off his mask and throw it in the back. I copy him, feeling much safer.
“I hate it when you do that,” I frown at him.
He blows air out of his lungs, revving the car.
“It’s what I do,” he replies, shrugging.
“No, I don’t care about that. I just don’t want to be part of it.”
Judah parks in front of a hotel. I drop the stupid USB flash drive on the dashboard. What’s in there that’s worth risking everything?
“Just for this,” I groan, rubbing my neck. “That guy could’ve killed me.”
Judah glances at me and quietly tells me, “You know I wouldn’t let that happen.”
I look away. But he takes my chin, forcing me to look in his grey eyes.
“I would never let that happen, alright?”
I bite my lip and nod. His hand drew away, just when I didn’t want it to.
“I still have something to go do,” Judah says, “I’ll be back.”
I swallow hard and get out of his car. What were you really expecting Rosalie?
Sunlight peers through my eyelids. I wake up and notice that the blinds are drawn up. I see a visibly flawless Judah standing by. He’s wearing clean clothes and is freshly shaven. He stares at the view from the large window.
“M-morning...” I try to say.
“Morning,” he turns.
I sit up, just staring at him and his fit body. There’s nothing else to do. It’s become a bad habit.
I missed him last night. Where he went in the late hours—I decide to ignore. I’m happy he’s standing here—perfectly alive.
Judah looks at me, reading the mixed emotions written on my face.
“Come here,” he motions softly.
I skid off the bed and step next to him. I can’t take my eyes off of him—he’s just too good-looking to pass up.
My heart hits hard in my chest. His even harder hands grab my waist, pressing me against the window. A little startled, I gasp.
I circle my hands around his wrists, as I feel my heart pounding faster.
His smirk is there, engraved on his face. My head gets hot, so my eyes divert downwards. He presses his body over mine, as his fingers untie my robe open.
Now my skin is exposed. I hate the way he gets my pulse to quicken.
I roll my hands into fists and set them over his chest, wondering if I want to do this right now. I’ve been nothing but worried for this man’s well-being all night.
“Where did you go last night?” I murmur.
“Doesn’t matter,” he answers lowly, pressing his lips against my temple.
My mind is still whirling. My eyelids become heavy, as I feel his hands on me. I still don’t know how I feel about him... after what I’ve seen.
He gives me no time to think about it. He kisses me deeply, groaning like he’s hungry.
The connection grows stronger and the control of his body puts me in a trance.
His hands grope me everywhere and I enjoy it. He pulls my thighs up, forcing me to open up. Already breathless, I wrap my arms around his neck. His hands work me up. I’ve learned to miss his touch.
His fingers press inside me and smooth me over, making my hips beg for him.
“Here?” he asks, knowing what he’s doing to me.
“Right there,” I moan, without any self-control.
His fingers thrust gently, tipping me over the edge. He kisses me down my neck, getting us naked. The heat between our bodies rises and I can’t do anything about it.
I’m dizzy and dazed, once he brings us onto the bed. I pant, wanting to feel more of him. I run my fingers through his hair and down his shoulders.
Judah holds my hip and eases in me. He rocks us back and forth, holding my body tight.
My mouth falls open and I grip his shoulders to stay steady, digging my nails in his skin. My eyes close on me from the immense pleasure. My back arches, as I gasp and pant, moaning louder and louder. The pressure between my legs builds, when he pushes deeper and harder. I can’t keep quiet, despite myself. Judah drives my body wild, ramming his length in and out of me.
The air blisters my lungs.
“Mm,” I breathlessly hum.
I feel Judah grin in my neck. His breath tickles my skin.
“God, you’re perfect,” he says, his deep voice panting too. “Why’d you got to be so goddamn perfect?”
His hands rub up my body. How does he do this to me? I’ll never know. There’s not another thought in my brain, other than Judah. His strong body. His sharp jaw. His grey eyes. His taunting smile. His miraculous hands. His soft lips. His everything.
Why you? Why me? Why this? What is this? Whatever it is, I can’t get enough of it... Will I go to hell for wanting him so bad?
He stays in my arms. Our bodies inseparable. My fingers trace his spine. How’d we both end up here? It happened so fast, I guess. I bite my lip, loving the feeling of his body. He plants a kiss on my collarbone.
He feels so good on me.