“He said he’ll be gone for a few days?”
Mara never learned how to whisper. We sit in the food court, chowing down on sushi rolls. I lift my eyes from my textbook. I might as well put my energy in explaining things to Mara. I rather do that than study macroeconomics.
“That’s what he texted me yesterday morning. I don’t know how many days. With him... you can’t really know anything.”
Her brows wriggle, and she dips her chopsticks in the black soy sauce. I’m not sure why he informed me of his departure to I-don’t-know-where, nor do I care. At least I can now have time to myself and get back to my usual routine. I watch Mara’s face churn as though she’s bit into some ginger.
“And you’re positive he’s part of a gang?” she then asks.
I nod my head, wanting to end the conversation for safety reasons.
“So what are you going to do?” Mara interviews me.
I shrug my shoulders, “Nothing.”
“But he’s so hot!” she sings.
I roll my eyes, poking my food.
“Is that all that matters to you?” I frown condescendingly.
“Oh, he could be a cold blooded killer, but since he’s got abs—it’s okay,” I raise my voice and my level of sarcasm.
“Don’t be so judge-y,” Mara rocks her head to the side, “You don’t know his story.”
I cut her off, “I know it’s a bad one. And that’s enough for me to keep my distance.”
With that, I stack my books together, getting ready to walk to my next class.
Mara laughs at my fed up look.
“If you don’t want that Judah, I’ll take him!”
“You’ll just die faster,” I snort.
“Then make sure that my tomb says ‘I was touched by the sexiest, most dangerous man alive’—”
“Mara!” I fume.
“I’ve got your grades back from the midterm,” says professor Gus, “The TA will pass them to you on your way out. Have a swell day.”
Once his white moustache ceased moving, I figured he was done talking. I scurry in line next to my best friend. We exit into the hallway, where other students huddle to reveal their grades to each other. I pull Mara outside, while she scans over her paper.
“What did you get?” I ask, taking my time to find the red marker on my own work.
“86,” she answers.
I pout, “I got a 72.”
“That’s not that bad.”
“It’s terrible!” I cry out, about to crush my paper, “I feel so hopeless.”
Mara tries to cheer me up, “Let’s celebrate with some frozen yogurt.”
“Celebrate what?” I oppose, “I handed two essays late this week—which I’ll automatically lose 10% on. I lost 20% in humanities for never handing it at all. I have to ace the final, otherwise I’ll fail the course... And now I got a low mark on my midterm. I never get low marks.”
“You’re still above average. So nothing really matters after that,” she heightens.
“I should have done better,” I beat myself up mentally, “Besides, it’s too cold for frozen yogurt.”
I partially—no, fully—blame Judah for all this ruckus in my academic life. I took pride in always getting 90 something. Now, I don’t know.
“Would the frozen yogurt place be open, if it were too cold?” Mara makes her point.
Before I can decide on whether I deserve to be happy like my best friend, my phone buzzes out of my bag. I reach for it and make a less than smart decision.
“What do you want?”
“Don’t you like me?”
“Do you even like me?” I throw.
Judah smirks, “I ask the questions here.”
I’m sitting in Judah’s car. Where we’re driving to, I don’t know. He didn’t quite say. Judah doesn’t say anything. I use the nearby gas station as a landmark, if ever I reached the point of having to flip out of the car. My stream of misfortune has given me a reckless reason to sit in Judah’s presence. His hand holds my thigh, as always... like he thinks I’ll otherwise float away.
“Where have you been?” I ask.
“Places,” he answers gently.
“But...” I start.
I then close my mouth, feeling uneasy somehow. A part of me doesn’t mind seeing him again, the other is afraid that everything will start over.
Judah parks the Jeep alongside a modern townhouse. Without looking for my eyes, he gets out. I jump out too and trail behind him, believing that this is probably where he lives. I wonder long and hard why he’d bring me here. He shakes his keys until he finds the one for the front door. I stare at the thin slice of ice set over the stair rails. There is vapour between us, for a moment.
Judah walks inside casually. I watch him flick on the light switch, though it doesn’t really brighten the place up. The far wall shows exposed bricks. The furniture lying around is minimal and boxy. There’s an enormous TV hanging on the wall. There’s a life-size bookshelf. There’s a giant sofa. Everything is black and dark and wrapped in leather.
He sees me still standing by the door. My skin dries up under his stare.
“Come in,” he motions, “Don’t be shy.”
He tracks up the narrow staircase that leads to the half-walled second level. I take a deep breath, entering. I close the door behind me and unlace my shoes.
What am I doing here? Why does he mesmerize me so easily? Don’t kid yourself, Rosalie.
Upstairs, up there, is just his bedroom. It’s just another gate to hell. God and the world know what goes on in there. I go up, despite it all.
A big circular furry carpet invites my toes to stay. I stare at the big, big bed. The thing can accommodate five people, I’m sure. The only thing white around here are his crisp bed sheets. I twiddle my fingers, while trying to guess the thread count.
I watch Judah drop his keys in a bowl, on the night table. He pulls off his leather coat, throwing it to the side, somewhere unimportant. His right hand pulls his messy hair back.
“Um,” I murmur, “Why did you call me?”
He turns around and pulls me closer to him. I don’t know how to pull away. I forgot how to protest. Judah smirks. That’s all it takes. Judah stares. It causes chaos within me.
“Didn’t you miss me?” he asks.
“Uh, no,” I breathe.
He lowers his voice and pinches my chin, “Liar.”
Yes, fool. The crazy part of my brain made me miss you. Sure, I could think of nothing else but you. I don’t say, though, what’s on my mind. I sigh at my spinning thoughts.
I stir up my courage, giving him a serious look.
“So when are you going to tell me... that you’re part of the mafia?” I demand.
Judah’s smirk disappears. He drops his hand to his side, but still holds my stare.
“Why are you so interested in what I am?” he asks slowly.
“Idiot,” I insult him, “That’s how relationships work—you learn everything about the other person.”
He takes one step back and leans on the desk. I watch him fold his arms across his chest. His muscles and tattoos distract me. I try to focus in on his grey eyes, but they’re just as distracting.
“What we have, sweet cheeks,” he looks down at me and says, “Isn’t a relationship.”
Perhaps those words hurt my feelings. What I feel now is my anger rising and my heart pulsating. The top of my nose heats up. I don’t know who I’m madder at—him or myself.
“You’re such an...” I shout, “An Asshole!”
Judah raises a brow, as though he’s impressed with my trying to curse him. Embarrassed at the whole bit, I lash my fist onto his chest, giving him a hard hit. He doesn’t feel it. So, I try again with my other rolled up hand. Judah grabs my two wrists tightly, swinging me around. Now behind me, he locks his arms around me, pressing our bodies closer together. I’m trapped—and like any prisoner with sense, I don’t provoke the guard. I don’t move. I breathe heavily. Though, I don’t know whether it’s from sudden fright of Judah or my earlier outburst.
I feel my coat slipping off my shoulders. I feel Judah’s hot lips on my neck. My eyes close. His rough hands find their way through my clothes. My stomach boils with nervousness. His touch gives me this sudden electricity inside, and it burns me up. I bite my lip, feeling tense at the sensation. His fingers stroke up between my thighs. My body soon betrays me, molding in his grasp.
“What we have,” he whispers in my ear, pressing further. “No one else has.”
I gasp, when I don’t feel the ground beneath my feet. Judah tosses me onto his bed. My body bounces a few times, before I’m met with Judah’s heavy body pressing over me. I might get heart failure, if my heart doesn’t slow down.
Like a caveman who found fire, Judah doesn’t let me go free. He strips my hip from its skirt and shifts his grip down to my legs. I let my shaky hands feel the valleys of his muscles.
His hot breath attacks my skin.
Overwhelmed, I open my eyes and look in his face. His faint smirk is daring, as he stares back at me. His lips dive in and kiss me deeply. My body malfunctions and leaves me unsteady. He’s so bad for me, I know. Yet, my being wants to be as close to him as possible. It’s the way he stares at me, like he wants me... And the way his fingertips graze my skin. I shiver, feeling more than exposed to him. His mystery just draws me in completely. With him, I feel like I’m in another world. Nothing seems to matter. I tell myself that maybe this is a sin.
It’s a sin to fall for Judah.
But my arms are already wrapped behind his neck and I’ve already opened up to his embrace.
I shut my eyes and try to kiss him back, without melting in the fluffy sheets. His hands grope me good, slipping beneath my underwear. The back of my throat chokes, deprived of oxygen.
Judah kisses me harder. Pleased with less clothing in the way, he settles his hand between my legs again.
My mind races, while I’m feeling anxious to the bone. His fingers lay right on my edge, teasingly, making me wait. My breaths quiver because of it. Oh God, why?
I feel his tongue twirl around with mine. His lips taste sweet and smoky, and I can’t get enough of it.
His fingers stroke me up, then down, and slowly in... I moan in his deep kiss. He makes me feel like I’m on fire. He refuses to extinguish me. His skilled hands work me up. His fingers drive me in a steady beat. I don’t know how to feel. I can barely breathe.
And Judah loves it.
He grins. I suddenly feel embarrassed, hearing myself.
“Ah—” I try to speak.
Judah whispers, “I know you like it.”
My face immediately heats up and I wish I could rewind. This is happening too fast. I panic, because I just might let him go further.
My right hand slaps him across the face. Anticipating him to do his worst, Judah suddenly rips away from me. I keep my eyes closed, feeling dumb for even letting him touch me like that. I feel stupid for enjoying every moment of it. I hate myself for wanting more.
“You shouldn’t... do that,” I pant out.
He silently laughs. I feel him move off the bed. When I open my eyes, I watch him walk out the room without a word.
I’m not sure what the time is. But I’m sure I’ve been lying alone in Judah’s bed for hours. The whole time, I think of what’s going to happen next? What could possibly happen now? I fix on my clothes and brush my hair down to its normal fashion. My lips are throbbing still. Every time I touch my mouth, it feels puffy and swollen. I start to worry if they’ll ever go back to normal. I slowly step down the stairs, holding onto the rail, afraid to fall over. My dizziness doesn’t go away. My knees are weak and can’t support me.
My eyes search for the one and only. Judah.
I spot him by an open window, smoking out a cigarette. His black shirt clings to his torso. His black jeans are slightly low, showing the elastic band of his underwear.
I get scared. I don’t know why. Looking at him is like looking at a film noir. His movements are slow, solid and strict. I hug myself, feeling the near winter air rush through the window.
He looks like a black panther, perched over the window pane like that. His light grey eyes shine in the moonlight. The smoke escapes his nose. His defined jawline can slice anything in half.
I notice his jaw clench every now and again. I try to take deep breaths, as I walk closer to his side. He knows I’m coming, but he never turns around to face me. My fear only multiplies.
“Judah,” I voice.
Thick smoke dissipates out his mouth.
“You shouldn’t get so close to me, you know,” he tells me, flicking the bud outside.
I gulp, uncertain of my feelings.
“I’m sorry for hitting you,” I say, “I didn’t mean to. I just...”
“It’s fine,” he stops me, “It’s hard to keep my hands off you.”
My face frowns, combatting the blush that’s creeping into my cheeks. Why is he saying things like this? What am I supposed to make of that? Does he mean what he says or is he a pathological liar?
“Um,” I sigh, “I just don’t know you... at all. And you’re—”
He finally turns his head and faces me. Feeling strange, I lower my stare onto his broad chest.
“If you really knew me, sweet cheeks,” he says in a low voice, “You’d hate me.”
What secrets could this man be hiding? He makes me more frightened every time he says something. I press my hand over my jumping heart, hoping to calm it down. I clear my throat.
“Do you do this a lot?” I ask lowly. He looks at me with a question mark written on his face. I clarify, looking to the side. “With other girls?”
For a split second, a vein pops up in his neck. His expression quickly turns into a frown, as his brows lower angrily.
“No,” he answers flatly.
I shake my head, taking a step back, “S-so why me?”
His angry face stays put. I don’t know how to believe him.
“You’re mine, remember?”
“You can’t just pick a random person and—and claim them,” I scowl. His smirk makes an entrance now. He finds my stress amusing. I sigh. “And I won’t be your play... thing...”
“The things I do to you,” Judah starts, “Is up to me.”
I hold my breath. I feel trapped under his stare. He sounds too controlling than my ears can take. He takes a step forward and I trot back. He cups my face in his hands. His deep voice gets in my head.
“I’ll play you like a toy when I want. I’ll fiddle you like a violin and make you moan for me. Then, I’ll break you like a stick, because you’re so fragile. And you’ll love it ’til the end.”