I shake my head in the towel again. My hair is still a little damp at the ends. I finally walk out the bathroom and smell a tinge of smoke. I look over at Judah. He sits outside on the veranda, smoking a cigarette. When he notices me getting dressed, he stands up.
“Boat ride?” he asks.
I wrap my hair in a bun.
“Sure,” I smile.
I notice that his phone stays abandoned on the dresser. He walks out first, and I follow quickly.
It’s night time, now. It feels as though there are more stars on this side of the world.
I stare at Judah’s broad back. I watch how his shoulders sway side to side, as he walks ahead of me. Wind blows on the fabric of his black shirt, making it clutch on his angular body.
My eyes watch goosebumps grow underneath his tatted skin. The weather feels chilly. My hands rub my own arms, feeling my goosebumps. Everything about this man... doesn’t let me think properly.
I stay quiet, as we walk down to the beach.
Judah looks over his shoulder for me. He stretches out his hand, and I take it.
“Cold?” he asks.
I smile and just shake my head. I like it when he’s like this—calmly concerned for me.
There’s a small motorboat bouncing in the wavy waters. I hop in, taking a look at the rubbery seats. Judah kicks the thick rope off the dock and pulls the motor. Eventually, it wakes up and drives us across the bay. I try to fix my messy bun against the wind, but there’s no hope—it gets in my eyes and my mouth.
It’s only when the coastline starts to shrink do I get anxious. I turn and look at Judah. His hand steers firmly, as though he’s not turning back anytime soon.
“Judah!” I yell over the wind and noise. His eyes land on me. “We don’t have life jackets.”
He turns his face to the ocean and says, “We don’t need life jackets.”
He sounds like he’s challenging the ocean. I stare at it. It’s so dark that I can barely see anything.
I stick out my lips, and plant my hands on each side of my seat for security. The sky is black. The water is black. Just like the man sitting behind me. Dark and endless.
“Why are we going so far?” I ask, more hair getting in my mouth.
“Are you scared?” he asks me.
I brush away the strands, and shake my head no.
I’m scared. I can swim... across a pool, not an ocean. He knows I’m scared. So what the hell is he doing?
The rickety noise of the motor, the windy speed, the middle of nowhere, surrounded by deep waters, the presence of Judah... Anyone would be frightened.
The lights of the house slipped away from view five minutes ago.
I stay turned to him. The boat jumps at every bumpy wave. The current now fights with the boat’s speed.
“I want to go back,” I tell him in a rush.
He smirks, and then the engine cuts down.
“Don’t you trust me?” he asks in new silence.
“Yes,” I answer, “No.”
Suddenly, Judah stands in the boat and tilts it on purpose. In a panic, I hold on to seat.
“Judah!” I scream.
Does this man want to kill me?! My head aches from the fright.
He grins. He’s pushing it. He’s lost his mind, I’m sure.
“What are you screaming for, sweet cheeks?” he asks me, his gaze sinister. “No one can hear you.”
I hold my breath and stare in his darkened eyes. Then, he tilts the boat again. I groan and bite my lip. The boat slowly rocks back to its steady state. The back of my eyes heats up.
“Stop it,” I plead firmly.
“There’s nothing to be scared of,” he assures me.
“You’ll turn the boat over!” I argue.
I watch him sit back down. The tickling sound of the water around us resonates in my ear. Judah’s stare burns holes through me.
“Even if I did,” Judah says, “Wouldn’t you hold on to me?”
I show him my angry face. He ignores it and starts back the engine. My heartbeat doesn’t go back to normal. I don’t say a word. I can’t.
The boat turns back around to land. I only forgive him in my head. Worst boat ride...