My foot hits one of the empty boxes. Doing yoga in this tight space is challenging.
“It’s downward dog, Ro. Not downward demolition,” Mara drones.
I groan, trying my best to keep the stupid yoga position.
Everything is harder when you’re six months pregnant.
We moved to a different city. Now that I’m away from Judah, and now that time has passed, I feel like I’ll be okay.
Mara, who has appointed herself to be my yoga instructor, as well as I my life coach, bullies me into stretching back into position.
The two of us, with our butts sticking up in the air, groan in pain. I don’t know how this is supposed to help me relax.
But, Doctor Mara finds it urgent that I place my body in bizarre poses for the well-being of gummy bear.
My center gravity pulls me down, and my sweaty feet glide off my purple mat.
I sigh, dropping to my knees.
“Ugh, I’m taking a break,” I whine.
“You’ll never improve your flexibly, if you keep taking breaks,” se criticizes.
I ignore her and walk up to our noisy refrigerator and pull out a cool water bottle.
Keeping Judah completely out of my mind is difficult, though moving away was the best thing for me. I’m thankful for Mara’s support. It’s better than none, really. I told her everything that had happened.
She holds a grudge against me, because I lied to Judah. But his life choice and my life choices... are just different choices.
Mara would say unnecessary jokes like ‘if Judah were here’ or ‘I bet Judah could fix this runny pipe’, or even ‘Judah would’ve paid that clinic bill for you’.
It’s impossible to get her to shut up. But I know deep down that I can’t be with him anymore—and now that there are no ties between us, his enemies don’t need to find me.
Mara rolls her mat. The window is foggy with spring humidity. Finally, the snow melts and the buds sprout.
“I’m going to take a shower,” I let her know.
She nods, and I turn towards the bathroom.
But there’s a knock on the door, which stops me in my tracks. Mara eyes me. We haven’t lived here long enough to befriend our neighbours. It’s isn’t the first day of the month, so the landlord wouldn’t be looking for rent. We stay like statues, until the door knocks again.
“Answer it!” Mara whispers.
“No, you answer it!” I hiss at her, in a frenzy.
Mara shakes her head, determined to stay on the safe side of the apartment. I roll my eyes and walk up to the door.
The main reason we chose this apartment is the peephole. It just adds an extra sense of security.
My eye squints and sees three unrecognizable tall men, dressed in dignified suits and coats. No, wait... I recognize one.
The Mafia boss from my encounter in Italy stands in front of the door.
A cold chill smashes my back. What is he doing here? How did he even find me?
Everything was going so well...
I turn the doorknob. If they’re knocking politely and haven’t busted the door down yet... They must be in patient moods and are not out to hurt me... or at least that’s what I think. Nothing matters, because these people always get their way.
I face the older man. There’s no cigar on his lips. There’s only a small smile.
We sit in a pleasant coffee shop for a while in complete silence. The breeze lifts wet leaves off the pavement. Clouds float lowly and mist tints the distance grey.
“What are you standing there for?” the boss glares at one of his bodyguards, “Get the girl something to drink.”
The bodyguard quickly dashes to the counter to order me something. I don’t object.
The boss has on a black tweed coat and a bright red scarf that sits around his shoulders.
All I can think about is that this is Judah’s boss... I don’t know why he’s here with me. I’m not sure how to feel. It’s confusing, to say the least.
“Your name is?” he looks at me with his wrinkled eyes.
“Um, Rosalie,” I answer softly.
He nods, as if approving my name. His voice is cavernous and deep. He rubs the sides of his mouth. I see where Judah gets that habit from...
“I want you to know something, Rosalie,” he says, rolling the r, “I own two thirds of Italy. Three thousand men work for me. I have shares in every casino in America, Portugal, and Japan. I have two gold mines in China, four in Russia, and nine in Peru. Big companies come to me... for money. So, when I speak, you listen.”
I swallow hard, and nod at his upfront introduction. The wind blows in my hair a bit. My fingers get cold.
“When I saw you at my dinner, I didn’t know how much of a disturbance you could cause. Especially with Judah.”
“I—” I try to speak up, but the boss cuts me off with a hand gesture.
“Judah... is like a son to me. He is one of my most loyal men. He always gets the job done for me,” the boss recounts. I don’t bother figuring out what he means by ‘jobs’. I don’t need to know. “He’s a funny guy. He likes to joke around. He doesn’t take life very seriously. I never minded his laid-back personality... or his picks.”
Anyone would think the boss loved Judah, too.
He begins lighting a dark brown cigar. Puffs of smoke escape his lips. The strong smell harms my lungs.
“When it comes down to it, I own him. And whatever he owns, I own,” the boss dictates, tilting his head to the side.
I frown hard, knowing exactly where this is going.
“Judah doesn’t own me—”
The boss chuckles lightly, “You like to talk back, don’t you?”
I quickly shut my mouth, nearly forgetting who I’m talking to. I know he wouldn’t hesitate pulling his golden gun on me.
The boss sighs, looking around the neighbourhood, “I’ve had my men keep watch on you, since you came here.”
Anxiety creeps in my head. I suddenly feel like there’s no escaping this... My insides burn, wanting to throw up. Deep breaths, Rosalie. Take deep breaths.
The bodyguard comes back and places a cool milkshake in front of me.
“Even though Judah has my utmost respect...” the boss says and waves his hand back and forth with his cigar between his fingers.
My head heats up, as tears set in my eyes. My nails dig into my knees. I stare him down with a strong face. I refuse to be pushed over, yet the situation becomes very difficult when this person has all the power. He glances quickly at my round stomach.
“Sir... please,” I say.
“And even though you’re important to him... He wouldn’t cross me during dinner, break my property, steal my car, and injure my men... if you weren’t...” he shrugs and chortles, “He’s never done that before.”
It’s the evil in his eyes that crushes my spirit completely. I couldn’t hold back my tears any longer. I’m short of breath.
I mumble with shaky lips, “I have nothing more to do with Judah. I swear... Please...”
The boss ignores me and continues what he has to say. His expression returns to serious one, and his low voice becomes sharp like a knife, slicing through the smoke between us.
“I can’t let his child live.”
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