Judah returns me home—his home, safe and sound. I can’t help but stare at the cold snow all around the city. If I look at Judah too long, my head will explode into bits.
“I already miss the heat,” I say, through my scarf.
Judah unlocks the front door, looking back and smiling at me. I follow him inside and escape the frosty vapors of my breaths.
He flips the switch and lights up the place. I kick off my winter boots rather viciously. Judah walks in front of me, still in smiles.
“I’ll take you again whenever you want,” he pledges.
My brows go up and emphasize, “I’d prefer if you didn’t get the... all-inclusive package.”
I’m pretty sure he knows what I mean. He pulls my jacket off my shoulders for me, grinning.
The trip turned crazy very quickly. I didn’t expect that shootout to happen. I never really know what to expect anymore. I try not to focus on the fact that the number of times I nearly lost my life increases the longer I stay with Judah.
I pause when I notice that Judah has yet to take his own jacket off. He doesn’t even brush the snow off his shoulders, as he walks up the stair case.
Feeling off, I pull my sleeves down my hands and awkwardly stand in the living room. I stare at the bricks, counting them, until Judah comes back down. He appears with a duffel bag this time.
Suddenly, his phone buzzes in his pocket. He takes it out and answers it.
The memory of Judah throwing things and breaking walls comes back to me. I’d hate for him to return to that state, if anything were to happen to him out there. I don’t even know what’s out there, waiting for him. All I know is that it’s bad and that I’ll have to feel it in some way.
“I have to go.”
“What if you don’t go,” I suggest, stepping in between him and the front door. As I wrap my arms around his waist, I feel an abrupt chuck of metal—his gun stuck onto his side. “Stay here.”
Judah kisses my forehead and passes me by. I shut my eyes, feeling frustrated.
“I’ll be back.”
He’s out the door, armed.
The thick steam begins to be unbearable. That’s when I know I’ve stayed in the shower too long. I brush my fingers through my hair one last time and exhale. Water runs down my back, as I turn it off. I keep thinking about the way Judah makes me feel. My skin is so accustomed to his touch, that I usually feel numb when he’s not next to me. I don’t know why my brain does this to me.
During my alone time, I think about everything—every decision I made to end up right here, right now. I’ve skipped school. I’ve stopped doing my work. I haven’t called my parents back. I’ve even avoided Mara and her questions. If she knew everything I dealt with, she’d lose it. I feel bad making her worry, but I can’t tell her... or at least not right now. I still have to decide how far I’m willing to go into Judah’s world.
My thoughts are interrupted, after I hear noises beyond the door.
I quickly grab my clothes and put them on, even though I haven’t dried myself off. My ears listen to several sets of heavy boots stomping throughout the hotel.
Suddenly the door bursts open. My mind comes crashing down as soon as I see Rick’s taunting figure standing there. He stares at me the way a cat stares down a mouse.
“There she is!” he exclaims, happily.
He wears a stretched sneer, as he looks me over.
“Get the hell out!” I shout.
I have no weapon of my own to defend myself. But I throw meaningless objects at his head. He only backs out of the bathroom, ordering at his men, “Get her.”
Two giants, tatted to the bone, enter and grab a hold of my limbs. I fight and scream, but I can never wriggle out of this one.
I hear Rick’s intimidating voice.
“Don’t worry, Rosie-pie. I just want my money back. Just hope Judah can pay up.”
Then, my head is knocked against the door frame, blacking me out completely.
My throat grows thirsty. My heart rate never goes down. I hear different voices echo on and off. I pray for my survival. After centuries of tugging and pulling on my ropes, I managed to loosen them just enough for me to bring my hands in front of me.
I know it’s been more than a day, because my stomach acts up. My vision is still fuzzy and my head always aches. I don’t know where I am or what happened.
A chuckle alerts me. I turn and scream. A man yanks me off the ground and carries me elsewhere. I fly my arms at his bald head. Then, we join others in some kind of large stockroom with metal boxes and trucks.
I see Rick, who kidnapped me for the second time, stand with a fat cigar in mouth, in front of Judah. I hesitate to scream out for him. I realize how much trouble I’m in. The man drags me closer.
The moment Judah locks his eyes on me, he looks dead surprised.
“Rose!” he rushes my way, even though I give him a sheepish look.
The back-men at his sides grip onto his arms, restraining him from coming to my rescue.
“I told you she was in my care,” Rick slithers.
“You better let her go!” Judah threatens.
Rick smokes his cigar leisurely, feeling no worries or pressure.
He widens his eyes and says, “Don’t worry, Judah. Do me a favour, and she’ll be safe and sound.”
Rick walks up to me, while I squirm in the back-man’s cramping grip.
Judah spits, “I won’t do shi—”
Rick violates my body with his hand. I scream for him to stop, knowing he won’t.
“Then I’ll make her a nice place in my bedroom,” Rick sneers, looking back at Judah. “What do you think?”
Judah goes red in the face with rage, nearly popping a vein.
“I’ll break every bone in your body!”
The two men haul fists into his ribs to quiet him down. I cry out, as he crouches in pain. Rick pulls away from me and turns around in his shiny shoes.
“Judah,” he pretends a frown and purses his lips, scowling. “You can’t skip out of town for two years and—”
“Don’t,” Judah coughs.
Rick becomes theatrical, glancing between Judah and I.
“What? I mustn’t say it?” he chuckles, throwing his cigar away. He puts his hands in his pockets. “Oh, you haven’t told her? She doesn’t know?”
Fear haunts me, wondering what they could be talking about. I hold my breath, still trying to recover.
“Don’t,” Judah repeats.
Rick fixes the collar on his suit.
“Fine. I won’t talk about that. I respect you,” he says, “I will say that I want back my money, though.”
“I told you—you’re not getting a fucking dime!” Judah lifts his head, shouting.
Just as Rick lifts a finger, the men punch Judah up again. I whimper in the background, feeling helpless.
“Then I’ll take your precious doll as compensation,” Rick comes back to me, grabbing my face.
I bite my lip hard, letting tears run down.
“Get your filthy hands off her!” Judah yells back.
“Is she that valuable?” Rick laughs, “That you won’t even share? She’ll make me a lot of money.”
“You want money? I’ll give you money,” Judah gives in.
I watch Rick’s smile stretch.
“8 million,” Rick says in one tone.
What the hell? What kind of number is that? Who even has that kind of money lying around to hand over? I become breathless. I stare at Judah’s face. He looks worn out, but angry like a bull.
What’ll happen to me? If he doesn’t pay up... I’m not even worth that much money.
Judah spits on the ground.
Rick reaches in his coat and pulls out a matte pistol. I scream in my throat, panicking ten times more. He points it at Judah and pulls the hammer. The click echoes against the silence in the room.
“Eight,” Rick slowly conditions, “Or the girl.”
“Take me! Take me! Take me!” I say hurriedly.
They stand still like they don’t hear me. Judah struggles to stand on his feet.
“Cash,” Judah answers.
“Hm. Good business,” Rick replies, lowering his arm.
In a blink of an eye, Judah fights off the two big guys. He pulls out his own gun, although being fired at by a surprised Rick and his back-men. Shots fire up and I plummet to the cold concrete for safety.
Only seconds after, I feel my arm in something warm. The guy who held me hostage was shot in the head, his blood spilling towards me. Hyperventilating, I crawl behind a metal box, only to be pulled again over someone’s shoulder. I close my eyes, feeling cold air rush over my skin. Hanging upside down, I smell Judah.
I stop crying, thankful that I’m safer.
I’ve never seen Judah so calm.
We’re speeding in his car through the long, everlasting highway, going I-don’t-know-where. I’m too afraid to ask what the hell just happened. He won’t tell me, I’m sure.
My body shakes like a leaf for a while. Judah has turned up the heat, in good graces. He’s even tossed me his jacket. He hasn’t said a word though. He has yet to look at me.
“Um—” I hum, trying to control my tremors. “A-are you okay?”
“Why are you worrying about me?” he finally speaks, even though his voice sounds deep and stern.
“A—a...” I stutter, trying to regulate my breathing.
Judah holds my chin, quickly examining my bruise. He curses quietly and sighs. He goes on driving at a crazy speed. I watch him think. His brows only lower, every minute that passes.
“We have to get out of here... for a while,” he says.
“W-what?” I look over to him in question, “Again? I have—I have school starting back tomorrow... or today. I don’t even know what day it is.”
He licks his lips and gives me a look.
“Can you tell me what’s going on?” I ask, winded.
He reverts his eyes to the empty road. Morning is showing up.
“I’m sorry this happened,” he says. “But I can’t tell you.”
"Who is Rick?” I ask still. “Why is he after you?”
“Just forget about it,” he shrugs.
“What do they want?” I shake my head, even though he made it clear he doesn’t want to tell me. “Why do they want money from you?”
“You’re not going to let this go?” he glances at me.
“No!” I shout. “It’s the second time this happened! You need to explain!”
I’m not sure if I was taking advantage of his calm air, but I surprised myself on how loud I yelled.
“Grand scale drug trafficking. Rick invested in a customer... a gangster I worked for. Actually, he invested a Mafioso’s money. Something went downhill and the gangster was killed. So, Rick wasn’t getting an inflow. Before he could confront me about it, I skipped town. Came here.”
He rubs his chin. I’m curious where the jail part fits, but I don’t want to truly know.
“And he found you?” I ask.
He shrugs, not bothered by his own story.
“Was only a matter of time,” he answers.
“So you want to run again?”
He shakes his head, “Rick will get what he wants. I just want to get you somewhere safe, so he doesn’t pull that stunt again.”
My breath is regulated. I relax my tense muscles. I want to know how much he cares about me.
“Why didn’t you just hand me over?” I question.
His brow twitches down.
“Why would I do that?” he answers with a question.
I don’t know. Because you’re Judah. You have nothing to lose.
I want to thank him for saving me. He didn’t have to. No one would expect him to. I certainly didn’t. I actually doubted him. But I feel elated being by his side, despite it all. I take a deep breath and hug myself. So much for making a decision...
“Where are we going?” I ask.
“Just staying on the road for now,” he says, shaking his head a bit.
I’m in another hotel with Judah at an ungodly hour. Again.
I pull my hair in a bun, staring at a half-naked Judah finding a good spot over the king-size bed. Ready to sleep, I simply put on a loose shirt with Celine boldly written on it.
I miss my old dorm room. I miss my boring life and predictable routine. I sigh, wanting to go back in time where it was just me, Mara, school and Starbucks.
My eyes look over at Judah. He’s there. Staring.
How did he get there, in the center of my life? How did this all happen? How’d I get involved... so deeply involved with this guy—this delinquent?
How do I get out if this? Do I even want to? I don’t know. I don’t think I can. He has me—only because I’ve given myself to him. I didn’t really put up a fight. I wanted him, too.
I press the stereo, and hazy blue lights glimmer. It automatically plays downtempo music. I tuck my loose hairs behind my ear.
That’s right. I’m Judah’s girl. His plaything. His whatever he wants. I’m what he wants.
I close my eyes, knowing his gaze will stay on me. I sway my body to the low beats, lifting my hands over my head.
I get lost in my head. I bite my smile, feeling Judah’s eyes, as they make me feel ticklish.
My hips hit left and right with the slow beat and I turn on my toes.
Half way through the song, I feel his hands grip my waist and his hard abs press against my back. I turn around and push his impatient hands away.
“You can only look, not touch,” I tease.
“I’ll touch you, when I please,” he smirks unnervingly, “Where I please.”
He urgently presses me up against the wall, lifting my thighs to his waist.
Then he does what he promised, driving his hand between my legs. He caught me off guard. His hot breath cascades down on me.
“Mm,” I moan, tucking my lips in my mouth.
I try not to make noise, but his hasty hands make it hard for me. I secure my legs on his waist, wrapping them around him. My hands steady on his shoulders.
He crashes his lips on mine, kissing me hard and passionately. My lungs can barely breathe. He refuses to let me survive and pushes his tongue in.
His every stroke gets my body more and more excited.
The song ends, and doesn’t drown my lengthy moans out.