A Wicked Song by Lisa Renee Jones


    I fly down the stairs of Kace’s apartment building with one thing on my mind: escaping. Kace August played me with his wicked song of seduction and now I have to get away from him. And so, I flee, bleeding inside and out—my heart, my mind, my hand.

    Quite literally, my hand is now dripping blood, adrenaline doing me no favors, and I have nothing to stop the flow. Halting a few flights down from Kace’s floor, with many more to travel to the lobby, my attempt to inspect my injury is thwarted by the stream of red. There is just too much blood. Hands bleed a lot, I remind myself, a fact I learned years ago when Gio cut his finger. With blood now on the floor and no other option, I tug the end of my thankfully black T-shirt and wrap it around my palm where the wood stabbed me, trying to halt the flow.

    Applying as much pressure as I can, I plod down the stairwell, and instead of thinking about my injury, my mind is on the documents I’d found in Kace’s office. There had been photos, too, I now realize—photos of Gio, who was missing when I met Kace. In other words, they were taken before we met. I don’t even want to go to the many jagged places that realization could take me. I want to scream. I don’t know what to do aside from leave, regroup, and make plans that might include me on the run. Gio is missing and our identity has been discovered. The facts paint a grim picture.

    Finally, finishing my trek down the stairs, I depart the stairwell into the lobby, and somehow, by some miracle, I walk calmly toward the door, exiting the sliding glass doors, only to come face to face with the doorman, Steven.

    “Good afternoon, miss.” His eyes land on my hand that is balled in my shirt, but as my gaze follows his, I find blood dripping from my exposed fingers.

    He pales and his attention jerks to my face. “Oh my,” he says. “What can I do to help? I’m here to serve.”

     “Thank you. I—ah—think the shock got the better of me. I left without a towel. Would you have a towel or bandage? And can I get a taxi please to get me to the hospital to stitch this up?”

    “Right away.” He shouts out commands to several employees and then refocuses on me. “Should I call Kace, or does he know?”

    “Just the towel and taxi, please.”

    As if on cue, someone hands me a towel that I wrap around my hand while Steven whistles for a cab. “Thank you,” I say again, becoming aware of the trembling of my body, though I’m not sure if that’s about the cut to my hand or the deep wound Kace has sliced into my heart. The cab pulls to a stop just in front of me. I rush toward the car, and Steven is there before me, opening the rear door. “Thank you so much,” I say, climbing inside.

    Steven leans into the back with me and instructs the driver, “Get her to the ER.” He then looks at me. “I’ll call Kace and let him know where you’re going.” I open my mouth to argue, but he’s already gone and shutting me inside.

    I quickly lean forward and speak to the driver, reciting my home address before I settle back into my seat. I was never going to the ER, not when I know that Kace will show up. Why wouldn’t he? I’m the key to a door he wants open. We were never about anything but my last name and the violin he loves. The formula to make that violin is worth so much money, I can’t even fathom the number.

    I glance at the white towel now around my hand, and so far, blood is not peeking though. I’m okay. The wound is closing. My eyes pinch shut and I press my good hand to my face and will myself not to cry. Not here. Not when I’m in this car. I’ll melt down when I’m alone at home and then pull myself back together, and decide if home is even safe anymore. It’s conceivable that Kace might be my enemy, but I remind myself, and sternly, that my heart isn’t how I should make any future judgments about Kace August.

    My phone starts to ring and I know it’s him, I know it’s Kace, and I let it ring. A second thought has me thinking of Gio, who I really need to hear from right now. I reach for my cell, struggling to remove it from my purse, and damn it, blood is seeping through the towel. I manage to snag my phone and glance at the screen. Sure enough, it’s Kace. I hate how much I want to answer, how much I want to hear his voice. How much I want him to explain himself and make the lie good enough for me to pretend it’s true. He knew who I was before we ever started dating and he didn’t tell me. Who am I kidding? Every moment with him was a lie.