Ace is bad.
After losing my brother, I know I should stay away. So why can’t I?
He’s irresistible. He’s confident. He’s amazing… but he’s dangerous.
He was there the night my brother was killed. He watched it all go down.
I should stay away. The things I saw weren’t acceptable. They’re not even legal.
I should want Ace as far away from me as possible—I should consider him a monster and a threat to my life—but something keeps drawing me back. Something keeps bringing me to him. Something is making me… weak for him.
He’s warned me many times to stay away. He’s even threatened me. But I know, just as much as he does, that I won’t stay away. I won’t until I get answers.
But there’s one thing wrong with getting too many answers. It leads to lies. It leads to trouble. It leads to danger. But worst of all, it leads to me falling deeply and madly in love with him.
I’ve gotta be out of my mind.
Footsteps start up the complex stairs. They’re heavy. Slow. I try to control my breathing but it’s hard. The room that was once my sanctuary – my get away—now feels like a trap. A prison. I can hardly breathe.
Sealing my eyes, I listen as his footsteps get closer to my door until finally he stops. It’s quiet for a moment. I think he’s got his ear to the door, wondering what I’m doing.
Then he bangs on the door and I gasp. I don’t get up, though. He can’t get in. The door is locked and the chain is on. I don’t think he’d be dumb enough to kick the door in, knowing I have neighbors. Good thing they’re nosey. They’ll come looking for the noise immediately.
“London, I know you’re in there! Car’s in the parking lot.” His voice is no longer calm and casual. It’s angry and demanding. “Open the door.”
I don’t say anything, but I do stand and hold the knife in front of me just in case. I slowly walk out of my bedroom and towards the living room.
“Open it or I’ll kick it down. I don’t give a fuck who sees me.”
I gulp and gasp at the same time, which causes me to burp. And it’s pretty loud. Loud enough for Ace to hear.
Instantly, the door swings open and hits the wall with a loud thud. I scream as I fall on my side. When I look up, Ace is standing between the frames of his door, adjusting his tie. All I can make out is his shadow, but I can feel his eyes hard on me.
Stepping inside, he shuts the door behind him coolly. I scramble away with the knife in my hand. When I get to my feet, I dash for my bedroom and grab the telephone. He chases after me, warning me not to do anything stupid.
I dial 9, but I’m not given the chance to finish. He snatches the phone out of my hand and slams it down. I spin around, bringing the butcher knife in front of me again.
Ace takes a quick step back, glaring down at the knife. Then, a slow smirk forms on his lips. The lips I hated I admired once.
“I’ll cut you,” I threaten.
“You won’t,” he says boldly.
“I won’t?” I hiss, bringing the edge of the knife to his neck. “Don’t test me. I will.”
He raises his hands in the air, shaking his head. “When’s the last time you sharpened this bad boy, huh? Three years ago? It’s as dull as fucking a nun in bed.”
“I don’t give a shit! I can still cut you with it! Just… sit down!” I demand, circling him, knife still clutched in my hands and at his neck. “On the bed.”
He frowns. “No.”
“I don’t wanna hurt you, but if I have to I will!” I shout, voice wavering.
“That’s the thing… you won’t.” His tone is even.
I keep my tears back and my emotions behind me for now. I don’t want him to think I’m weak. I don’t want him to get away either. But deep inside I know I won’t hurt him. I won’t cut him. I’m too afraid to shed blood after seeing so much already.
With a bored sigh, Ace snatches the knife out of my hand and tosses it out of my bedroom. It skids across the hard wood floors, causing a clanking noise that makes my ears ring. I gasp, and start to run after it, but he grabs my arm tight and shoves me against the nearest wall. It’s not a hard shove. Nor does it hurt. But I’m still afraid.
As I tremble, he brings one of his large hands up and locks my face between his fingers. His eyes stare deeply into mine, his nostrils flared. From the slit of light filtering in through my window, he looks pissed. I know he’s going to kill me. I’m a witness.
“Listen to me,” he grumbles. His warm breath spills down my chest, across my cleavage. “I told you I’m not going to hurt you.”
“Why wouldn’t you?” I spit.
“I won’t. I’m not the one that killed Jonah. They did.”
Hearing Jonah’s name causes fiery tears to build in my eyes. “It’s your fault. I know it. Why wouldn’t they kill you, too? What were you doing there anyway? Why was Jonah there? Why did they kill him?” All of this is spilling out of me. I’m outraged. I’m pissed that Ace is still alive and my brother isn’t. I’m terrified. I’m… I’m a mess.
“Listen to me!” he demands, releasing my face to lock his hands on my shoulders. “I don’t know why they killed Jonah, all right? I don’t know why they didn’t kill me. But you have to understand… it’s what we do. It’s what Jonah signed up for. It’s business, and we can’t help when shit gets bloody.”
I process his words, give them some thought. “So… you’re the one that got him into that shit? What is it? What’d you promise him? I know Jonah, and I know he wouldn’t do something this bad without something in exchange.”
“I didn’t promise him shit.” Ace runs one hand through his slick hair. “He knew what he was in for. He was money-hungry, just like everyone else. He saw a way to achieve it and he went for it. It was a mistake… him coming to Atlanta.”
“How is that a mistake?” I demand. “I invited him. I graduated!”
Ace tilts his chin to meet my eyes. His are dark, and if I’m not mistaken, watery. I’m not given the chance to figure it out completely because he blinks and just like that, he’s angry again. “Don’t go to the cops. It’ll only get you killed.”
And with that, he releases me and walks out of my bedroom. I follow after him, grabbing his arm before he can get out the front door. “Killed by who? You?” I’m keeping my voice steady, but deep inside I’m scared out of my fucking mind.
New York Times & USA Today Best Selling author Shanora Williams considers herself one of the wondrous, down-to-earth authors who's all about romance and the paranormal... but of course she always makes room for the many other genres out there. She's a huge lover of Starbucks and a big kid when it comes to Haribo Gummy Bears. If she could swim in Coca-Cola she would. She's a very avid reader and a fan of many others independent authors.