Chuckles filled the four corner of Jude’s office in his mansion as the mob boss lounged in his swivel chair, his hands held the phone while he read Ria’s text messages. Last night, she officially became his girlfriend. He still couldn’t believe it though; he was actually in love with a woman…
He would admit it. At first, all he wanted was a good fuck, and when Ria showed defiance, he wanted to prove his manliness, by making her submit to him. However, in the process, what happened was the exact opposite. It was he who was ensnared in the end. What he said about losing his mind when he thought Ria was shot… it was all true. That was when he actually realized that his case was hopeless: he was officially in love with her, that she-devil who could be as cold as ice and as hot as fuck at the same time. Jude’s musings were interrupted when he heard knocks on the door of the office.
“Come in!” He yelled. The door was not locked anyway. The door opened to reveal Matt, together with the guy he last expected, the motherfucker lawyer, León Figueroa.
Jude smirked. “What dreadful winds brought you to my lair, attorney?”
The lawyer smirked back. “I’m here to make you an offer that you wouldn’t want to refuse.”
Ria was giggling on her bed while Schrodinger laid on her chest asleep. She had just read Jude’s reply on the video she captured of their cat kneading her chest, to which she captioned with the words, “He thinks I’m a soft blanket.”
Her hotheaded boyfriend (still weird in her ears), then responded with: “STOP HIM. TELL HIM THAT’S MY TERRITORY.”
She erupted with chuckles. He could really be such a big baby sometimes. He even got jealous of their fur baby. Fighting a smile in her face, she sent him a reply saying that, “You’re being silly.”
He did not reply anymore, so she just settled on cuddling with her cat. Schrodinger was always so lazy, she thought with some amused frustration.
“So does this make us business partners now?” I expect you to hold your end of the deal. My group does not take to being deceived lightly.” Jude said as he stood up to lead the lawyer out of the office.
“Of course, Mr. Nabokov. The police chief promises it himself.” León formally answered his new partner.
“Great. So because we’re partners now, I would greatly appreciate it if you lay off my girlfriend.”
The lawyer’s eyes widened. “Girlfriend? Are you referring to Ria?”
Jude grinned proudly, his fang showing a bit. “Yeah. We officially became a couple last night.”
León’s face became unreadable as he considered what the mob boss said. After a few seconds of silence, he sighed. “I figured that.” He looked at Jude carefully. “I hope you realize how lucky you are. Treat Ria right and don’t break her heart. I mean it.”
“Don’t worry. I swear to it by my Bratva’s code.” The mob boss extended his hand to finally seal the deal, which the lawyer accepted. León then turned around to exit the room as the taller man looked on.
“Congratulations, Sir, for finally winning Lady Ria’s heart,” Matt uttered beside the mob boss after the lawyer vanished from their eyes. “Do you want the Bratva to prepare a welcome party for the Lady?”
Jude glanced briefly at his right-hand man before he shook his head. “No, not now.” Ria’s still not comfortable with the new status of our relationship. I don’t want her to feel overwhelmed by the facts of our world.”
The able assistant nodded at his boss’ explanation. “I guess you’re right, Sir. But I’ve got a suggestion for you, Sir, if it doesn’t bother you…”
Jude creased his forehead as he considered Matt’s words. “What is it?”
“Errr… well, you could take out Lady Ria on a date, or probably send her flowers or chocolates, or even a stuffed toy. I think it would be nice if she experiences how it is to be a normal girlfriend.”
“You think so?” There was obvious interest in the mob boss’ voice now.
“Uhmm… just a suggestion, Sir,” said Matt as he shrugged his shoulders.
“Hmmm…” was the only response from Jude.
Ria was surprised when she found Sir Matt waiting for her at the office of the charity when her shift was finished. He only told her to hop inside the car he drove as her curious officemates looked on. Jude’s assistant then took her to the mansion where the Bratva was headquartered.
Every member of the Bratva greeted her while she felt terribly unconscious as she knew she looked kind of haggard after a long day of study and work. She was nowhere near the definition of a ‘lady’ as of this moment, she thought as she inwardly grimaced. She was finally led to the pool area where there was a table for two illuminated by candle lights. Wait, come to think of it, the whole pool area was also covered with little candles while the pool itself was covered with flower petals.
Confused as to what was actually happening, she swiveled her head to ask Sir Matt, but she found out he already left. It was then that she heard violin music playing. She recognized the tune as Venus from Gustav Holst’s The Planets. She searched for where the music was coming from and she saw Jude coming out from the other end of the pool area, carrying a large bouquet of violets, the bald violinist who visibly had a broken nose following him.
Her mob boss boyfriend was dressed in a white long-sleeved polo with two of its buttons undone on the top. She noted with some degree of amusement that Jude definitely looked a bit ill at ease. When he reached her, he shoved the bouquet he was carrying to her, which she accepted with a smirk.
“Flowers for you,” he grumbled.
“You look constipated,” she noted with some snicker and she tilted her head to ask him, “What’s all this?”
“It’s Matt’s idea. I shouldn’t have listened to him.” He averted his eyes as he mumbled. “I look silly, don’t I?”
Ria chuckled. “Not really. I’m just surprised.”
“Well, that’s the point. At least that was achieved.” Jude said with a frown.
“It’s a nice kind of surprise, I’ll admit. I appreciate this.” She looked down at herself. “You could have told me so that I wouldn’t be looking too shabby in front of your men.”
The mob boss surveyed her form with sly eyes. “Nah, you look alright, but I would much prefer it if you were wearing nothing at all.”
Ria clucked her tongue in mock annoyance. “Ugh, there you go again ruining the mood.”
“Yeah, yeah.” He directed her to the table. “I think you need to sit down there and we’ll have dinner or whatever.”
“I guess so… I’ve never been in a date before,” she answered as she walked towards the table set for two as Jude followed at her heels.
“Me too. I don’t go on dates. I just fuck women and leave them for good while the past girlfriends I had were short-lived and not too serious.” The mob boss glanced back at her briefly as he said quietly, “All this is new to me.”
Her eyes softened as she gazed back at him. “Well… I guess we’re both newbies in this.” Both of them shared a small smile that helped them finally feel comfortable with each other.
The violinist, on the other hand, followed them and settled to stand on their right, continuing to play the romantic piece. When she gestured to pull out the chair to sit down, Jude stopped her.
Ria froze as she directed her questioning eyes to the mob boss. “What?”
“I should be the one to draw the chair for you,” the mob boss said as he led her to sit down.
Thoroughly amused by Jude’s uncharacteristically gentlemanly actions right now, she sat down while chuckling. When the mob boss finally sat down across from her, she told him, “I could get used to this.”
He looked at her with serious eyes. “I can’t promise you.” He then reached for her hand lying on the table as he mumbled, “But I will try.”
“If I were a musical piece, which do you think I would be?” Ria asked Jude who was currently using her lap as his pillow while he laid on the edge on the pool, completely uncaring of his now soiled polo.
They had already finished their candlelight dinner by then, and they both decided to enjoy the balmy night by the poolside. They had let the violin man rest for awhile now and only the sound of the crickets filled their surroundings, aside from their low voices and the ripples of the pool water. Ria had taken off her sneakers to submerge her tired feet in the water.
“Hmmm…” It took Jude some moments to answer as he relished her gentle combing of his locks. “You kind of remind me of the moon, you know? Lots of times, even as I had you before when you were still an escort, you seemed cold, hard, unreachable… but then again, I couldn’t help but be fascinated, attracted… kinda like how the moon attracts the water during tides. So yeah, if you were a music piece, you’d be definitely Dvorak’s Song to the Moon from Rusalka.”
Ria was rendered silent for awhile as she did not expect to receive such an introspective response from Jude. She was a bit tempted to tease him for waxing poetic this night, but she refrained herself for she did not want to ruin the mood.
“Rusalka… I like how it’s still connected to Russia,” she started good-naturedly, “and since we’re in the topic of music and Russia, I’d say that if you were a music piece, you’d be definitely Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.” She told Jude.
She felt her mob boss boyfriend chuckle. “I think I can see why… It’s because of those booming cannons, isn’t it?”
Ria responded with snickers of her own. “Totally! Especially when you get mad, I can always imagine you exploding!” Her voice turned pensive. “I like that about you… always so intense, determined about everything. I’m totally the opposite, I think…”
“Remember, remember, it was in November… I had you once and never forgot...” Jude sing-sang his modified lines of the famous Guy Fawkes poem associated with the Overture after that V for Vendetta movie was shown.
Ria could not help but to laugh out loud. “I was thinking how you were being so poetic awhile ago, but I didn’t expect you to actually recite a poem!”
Jude humored her as he got up to defend what he did. “What? Before, men courted women by reciting poems.”
“Except that this poem was about a bloody revolution, not a romantic one,” she pointed out. “The effort was much appreciated though.”
The mob boss gave her a sexy smirk. “Fuck, yeah.” He then swooped down to claim her lips, his own warming her cold ones.
But Jude, the intense, impatient man that he was, easily demanded that she open her mouth to her probing tongue when he lightly bit her lower lip, making her open her cavern to allow him to explore. And just as swift as he claimed her mouth, it was just as swift that he let go off her own, a string of saliva still connecting their mouths. Their eyes also connecting with each other, they could not contain sharing soft smiles.
“Hey, I want to formally introduce you to the Bratva. Come here on Friday.” He said as he caressed her face.
Tricia and Diane received a text message from Hope that they should meet in front of a certain building. She told them that they would probably see Ria there, finally proving that she used to be an escort. At first, they would not believe it; after all, it seemed like Ria would be the last girl to be something like that. But Hope had proof, like the contract that Ria had signed when she first joined the escort service.
“I told you, Ria is definitely a threat.” Tricia chided Diane. “She’s a professional seducer, for Pete’s sake!” The girl with the glasses turned pensive. “Although I still wonder how she could have done it… she sometimes looked like a little kid. I wonder what that girl was hiding inside her hoodie?”
Diane could not help but feel really worried. If Ria had experience manipulating men, there was a good chance that she had done the same thing to Francis. The unfortunate thing was, it seemed that it was too late, as Francis himself admitted that something was between him and Ria even though the girl denied it.
Hope came running to them, dressed in a tight red dress, showing off her great figure. She almost looked like she was their age. This woman was someone they could understand as an escort, not Ria.
“Hey,” Hope caught her breath first. “Ria’s upstairs. You can see it for yourself.” She then led them to the elevator up to the floor where they heard some noise, like there were people celebrating. The three of them tiptoed at the back of the room where they saw men holding glasses, laughing, and chatting.
The older woman whispered as she directed the two college girls to a certain direction. “There, at the couch, the one who’s wearing a green dress, making out with the guy in a white suit.” Tricia and Diane looked at where Hope had her eyes at. “That’s Ria with the leader of a very big Russian Mafia, Jude Nabokov. His group is having a celebration right now because from what I’ve heard, they have won against their rival.”
“No way…” Tricia whispered. “That’s our Judo teacher, Sir Alexei Perez…”
Hope creased her forehead. “Alexei? That’s his middle name. His full name is Jude Alexei Nabokov, and like what I’ve said, he’s a Mafia leader and Ria’s former client.”
The two younger women jaws dropped at what they saw and heard. Hope smirked at their dumbfounded faces, thinking that they were only like that because of Ria. Diane and Tricia thoughts though were about the connection between Jude and their classmate. It was evident that the relationship between their Judo teacher and their classmate went beyond the classroom.
“Ria only looks innocent, but beneath that façade is a wily girl who holds men at the palm of her hands. That lawyer there?”
Hope pointed out another man to them. Both of their eyes widened as they recognized it as Atty. León Figueroa, the one who once sent flowers to Ria. “He’s also one of her former clients.” So that meant that he and Ria had known each other before, Tricia and Diane realized.
The two glanced back at the celebrating party as they saw Ria and the mob boss she was kissing with finally part and share a tender smile. As Diane roamed her eyes, two people seating on the adjacent couch caught her eye. It was Francis and Josh, sipping their glasses of alcohol!
“Tricia,” Diane called her best friend. “Look at Francis and Josh!”
Tricia looked right away at where her best friend was pointing at and saw the two boys. “What are they doing here?!” She gasped. It seemed like every man they knew was somehow connected to the petite hoodie girl, and to be honest, Tricia was not finding it funny anymore.
Antonino Messi did not like being one-upped, especially someone he considered as his inferior. But then again, he thought he shouldn’t have underestimated the younger Nabokov; Jude might have been a newbie, but he was still a cunning Russian mob boss.
He definitely was not anticipating the mob boss to team up with this country’s authorities to try and take him down. That action used to be against the rules of the Mafia, whether it was Russian or Italian. However, the times had changed since he first came to this country more than 20 years ago. The whole Mafia network had to keep up as the police begun to use sophisticated methods to catch underground criminals like them.
And that was why he liked it here in the Philippines. He only had to pay off the politicians and he could conduct his business freely. Not a lot would also think of this place right away when it came to organized crime. After all, this country never seemed attractive to other groups. However, with the change of administration that was intent on the crackdown of criminals and the appearance of a rival group like the Nabokov clan, his position seemed to be in danger.
Yesterday, two of his meth factories were raided and he lost more than P 6 B worth of products. To say that he was infuriated was a gross understatement. Antonino smirked as he remembered something that the spy he planted on his rival group sent him earlier this day. It seemed that his luck was going to pick again for he found something interesting about the younger Nabokov. He stared back at the picture of a short girl wearing a black jacket displayed on his laptop’s screen. Antonino Messi now knew his rival’s greatest weakness.
León stepped out to go to the balcony where he first met Ria, intending to take a brief smoke. The said girl was being formally introduced as the Nabokov clan’s mistress and looked as if the last thing that she wanted was to be presented like that. However, he would also be the first to admit that Ria looked genuinely happy standing there beside Jude and there was a certain glint in her eyes that had never been present before.
He was truly happy for her… and Jude also seemed really crazy about the petite woman. He couldn’t blame him, for he would have wanted that for himself. He just could not stand watching the mob boss steal a kiss from Ria like he couldn’t resist from time to time. Some little voice in León’s head was whispering that the mob boss was probably intentionally doing that so as to show him and every man in the vicinity that the woman was his and only his. That was why he had to get away from there for a bit.
“So what are you going to do next?” León heard someone whisper. He recognized it as Manager Hope’s voice. “Are you going to report Ria to the Guidance Counselor in the campus?”
León creased his forehead at what he heard. What was this about reporting Ria to someone?
“We don’t know yet… She’s with a powerful Mafia… but I think something’s need to be done now that we know that she’s a prostitute,” a voice of a woman that the lawyer did not recognize spoke up.
“Tricia, I feel like we need to do this carefully. Francis could get involved here,” a timid voice uttered.
“Well, you could just spread it like a rumor…” Hope said again. That was the last straw for León to finally reveal himself up. He couldn’t let these people ruin Ria’s reputation even if there was truth in it.
“Excuse me ladies, but I’ve heard what you’re planning and I can’t allow it,” the lawyer said as he stepped out of the dark. León saw how the three women visibly paled as they were caught in the middle of planning something.
Everything Has Changed – Taylor Swift ft. Ed Sheeran
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Book / Romance