I can only compare Judah to a quiet guard dog. He’ll stay quiet and stare at you, challenging you, daring you to take a step. But take that step, and he’ll attack you so swiftly, you won’t even realize that you’ve been torn to bits. That’s how I feel sitting in his pristine black car.
My nervousness adds pain in my throat. Where could we possibly be going? Who could he possibly be? I’m in the part of town that’s unfamiliar to me. So, I’m at the mercy of Judah. I pray he won’t kill me, or something. My memory retells me that he’s been in jail. He’s also notorious for beating people up. Who knows what else he’s done... He’s a bad boy. I shouldn’t be near him. All dogs bite...
“You’re quiet, sweet cheeks.”
“I wish you’d stop calling me that,” I grumble, looking out the window.
“Are you a party girl, Rosalie?” he says my name.
We both glance at each other. I quickly divert my eyes back to the swooshing buildings. I feel my cheeks swell with heat. I don’t understand how his deep voice can jolt changes in my body. I rub the back of my neck to wipe the cold sweat away.
“Obviously not,” I say.
I rerun the whole Everest incident in my head. I’m grateful that Judah managed to scare Everest away, but I’m not sure whether I’m any safer sitting next to him. Suddenly, his hand rests on my leg. My mind crashes downhill and I can’t think anymore. I want to scream at him to get his deceitful hand off my skin, but my throat is blocked and my lips are sewn shut. I can’t even move a muscle. It’s like my body just shuts down on me by Judah’s simple touch.
“Do you like swimming?” he asks, rotating the steering with one hand.
I take a deep breath and demand, “W-why do you want to know?”
“We might,” he stretches and glances at me, “Get wet tonight.”
His smirk makes him so mysterious. I don’t know what he means, but that definitely doesn’t sound right. I buckle my shoulders, sinking in the leather seat. Judah then pulls up in front of a modern pool house. I stare at the loud party people. He cuts the engine and hops out. I decide to stay right where I am, until he walks to my side and opens the door. I hesitate, before stepping out. Music blares and bikini models walk around with martini glasses. I gulp, wanting to teleport back home. The world becomes an awful place, when Judah snakes his arm around my waist.
“Don’t be shy, sweet cheeks,” he tells me, pulling me closer to the party.
He walks me to the back of the residence. The pool is heavenly large and lit up. At the back, I see a DJ at his booth, remixing song after song. There are tonnes of people dancing and having a good time under the flashing multi-coloured beam lights. My eyes look up to a balcony, where men in suits look out on the dance floor. What surprises me is seeing waiters serving cocktails. This isn’t a typical party—this is a rich people party.
“Ah! You made it!”
Judah turns and we are met with a man wearing a loose chambray shirt and white beach shorts. But it’s his Rolex that catches my attention. Why would you get that wet? He hands Judah a beer or something. I look down at the marble tiles.
“I thought you’d still be detained,” the party host takes a swig.
“They let me out early on good behaviour,” Judah smiles, taking his own swig.
I make like a statue. They’re talking about jail. Oh God, he wasn’t joking...
“Heh,” the host laughs a bit, shaking his head, “Good behaviour.”
Then we all walk inside. The lights are dim and there’s another pool. The sight of brutish looking men making out with young girls over here and over there makes me uncomfortable.
“What did I miss?” Judah inquires.
“Big drug heist in Colombia. Antony and his men are on it. But now boss wants out.”
The host shakes his head, “Only 20 million.”
“That’s not much,” Judah sighs.
“Brag is after it, though.”
“Boss doesn’t want things to get messy, huh,” Judah grins.
“Exactly,” the host walks behind the bar.
He uncorks a bottle of vodka. Then a woman comes wearing a skimpy bikini and massages the host’s shoulders. My ears can hear dirty things happening beyond the paneled wall. This side of the world is not for me.
“Your stuff is upstairs,” the host says, “You’ll have to meet up with Antony as soon as he comes back.”
His voice sinks lower when he asks, “What about Rick?”
“Don’t worry about Rick,” says the host. He then widens his smile and motions his chin towards the pool, before walking off with his masseuse. “Get your feet wet.”
With that, Judah pulls me, as he approaches the pool’s edge. I don’t think he notices my resistance, because he has strong solid arms. He looks at me finally.
“Take your clothes off,” he directs.
My mouth drops. Excuse me? What kind of—He must be out of his mind. He can clearly see that I don’t want to be here or take a swim. Where does he get the audacity to even say that? For my own safety, I take a step back. Judah pulls off his shirt, exposing his lean body to me. I can’t help but stare at his defined muscles and his rippled eight-pack. Before I go blind, I turn my head away and chew my lip.
“Don’t be shy,” he coaxes.
Suddenly, his fast hands remove my top. I kick up a fuss, until he tosses me into the blue water. Bubbles submerge my body and I swim up the surface. Just when I breathe out and rub chlorine off of my face, I feel a pair of hands gripping me. My shoulders shake and my eyes stay shut. I know Judah is in front of me, but I refuse to open my eyes. I cross my arms over myself. I might die right here. I’m more than agitated. I feel Judah’s hot breath brush down my nose.
“Relax,” he whispers.
My body temperature has adjusted to the warm water... or maybe to Judah’s steaming core. I don’t know. I need to get away before I drown. Despite myself, my eyelids flutter open and meet Judah’s bright grey eyes. I watch him lick his lips. Oh God, oh God... How do I get out of this? He’s less than an inch away from me. I have nowhere else to look. He takes up my whole view.
I clear my throat, “I—”
“I promise to take you home... After I...,” he tells me.
Then, he leans in critically close that the tip of our noses touch. I hold my breath in. After what? What’s he going to do to me? My mind races on every possible thing. First, his fingers press firmly into my hip bone. Then, his torso applies pressure against my small frame. My heartbeat knocks its way out of my chest. I feel my pulse quicken. I feel like I’m stuck in a twilight zone. Why can’t I just push him away? Why is it so hard for me to move?
“After I get my stuff,” he finishes.
He pulls away, smirking hard. Goosebumps crawl up my arms. He effortlessly hoists me up back onto the ledge. My lungs collapse, forcing me to pant for air. I turn away, completely and utterly embarrassed. I use the back of my hand to rub my burning cheeks. Judah coolly heads towards the stairs, leaving me hot and bothered. The long lines running down his wet back make me stare. Water droplets trail down his tan skin... I mentally slap myself. I shouldn’t be staring—I shouldn’t be here, point blank. I shouldn’t know Judah. I smooth my hair back and shake off. I pick up my shirt and put it back on. I lift myself up to my feet. I don’t wait for Judah to return. Instead, I go out the doors. I’m bombarded again with the noisy party. I squeeze through the crowd and find the car that brought me here. I cross my arms, leaning on it. In a moment, he appears. He runs his fingers through his hair. I stand up straight. He has on his shirt, thankfully. He holds a duffle bag. I wonder what’s inside.
“Where’s my phone?” I blurt.
He unlocks the door and plainly answers, “In the car.”
“I want it back... A-and I want to go home,” I spell.
“Get in,” he tells me.
He opens the trunk and drops his bag in. He seems to be ignoring me. I spin around and clamber into his car. Soon, he sits in the driver’s seat and turns on the engine. I glance over and watch him light a cigarette. I frown at the burning scent. We reverse off of the property and drive onto the road ahead. I squeeze my hands together, trying to calm my nerves. Suddenly, his hand settles onto my lap. He holds my phone though. I take a glimpse of Judah and look back at my phone. I can see that his number is written on the screen. It’s as if he dares me to grab it from him, which might have regrettable results. His voice distracts me.
“Where do you live?” he asks.
“Uh,” I stammer my answer, looking out the window. “Past downtown, near the, um, subway station. My dorm is up the hill.”
“Hm. So you go to college?”
I nod slowly, “Yeah.”
“Are you those preppy college girls who only care about their lip-gloss and pompoms?”
“I’m not like that,” I shake my head, grimacing.
Judah grins lightly, “Not like that, huh?”
He pulls the car up the curb. My dorm is in sight. I take a breath of relief. I’m more than thankful that I made it home safely and in one piece. I turn to the boy.
“Can I have my phone back?” I ask, as politely as I can.
He looks at me for a long time. I become self-conscious under his stare. My eyes divert under the pressure and my brows lower. Suddenly, he lifts his hand and my phone lands on my lap. I take it and glance at him, muttering an inaudible thanks. I’m not certain why I haven’t yet reached for the door handle. He leans in closer to me. My heart just won’t stop pounding so much.
“A lot of people think I’m a bad person,” Judah says lowly, his voice cracking. “Do you think so?”
My insides turn queasy and don’t give me room to breath. I blink at him. His exterior is rough and his stare is rigid. He frightens me. Why can’t I get up and run? Why am I still sitting next to him?
“No,” I answer.
“Don’t lie, sweet cheeks,” he smirks, “It doesn’t suit you.”
I feel like a mouse in a cat’s corner. My spine shivers uncontrollably. I need to get out of here. I push the door open, feeling the coolness of the night’s wind.
I open my mouth, “I...”
“Goodnight,” he says.
“Goodnight...” I say it back, automatically.
I jump out and turn my back to Judah. I quickly walk up the steps and go through the door. Once I close the door, I smack my forehead and groan. I drag myself up the spiral stairs until I reach my dorm room. I smell like chlorine and cigarette smoke. I wish for amnesia to strike me, because I want to forget everything that happened tonight. I turn on my phone. The first thing that appears is Judah’s number. I frown immediately. I stare at my phone, debating whether to delete his number or not. It’s nerve racking. My brain nerves burst. Then, I hear the roar of Judah’s car engine. I peek through the blinds of my small window and watch him drive off into the obscurest part of the world.
He doesn’t leave my mind for one second. He’s so hot and mysterious. I can’t understand him. What confuses me more is how he gets my heart racing... He’s like the dark. It’s scary, but I open my eyes as wide as I can and feel him everywhere. I don’t think I can handle meeting him again. He’s affiliated with all the wrong things—I can’t afford to be next to him.