Devoured (EPILOGUE)

My life in Nashville is better than anything I could've ever imagined. I live with Gram. I connect with friends I've not spoken to since my mother's arrest. I meet new guys and have the occasional one night stand. None of them are nothing like him, but I'm glad.

There are no physical or emotional binds with the guys I fuck once or twice.

And then I start getting clients. Personal shopper. Wardrobe consultant for music videos – country music but I'll take it because I absolutely adore my work. And every time someone hires me, I'm told Kylie Wolfe referred them.

I've got to give it to her, she's good for business.

I speak to Tori every day, and I make it a point to contact Kylie at least once a week, either by phone or instant message. She asks me a million questions about work, Gram, and even Seth. I ask her about the guy she's been seeing – someone she met at an award show after party and why she picked her new hair color. It's fire engine red and white blonde now and I absolutely loathe it.

She laughs when I tell her outright she looks like a Spice Girl.

Not once does she mention Lucas and I don't ask.

But then, in the middle of July on a sticky night where Gram has gone to play Bingo, Kylie texts me at five minutes 'til nine, telling me to turn on my TV. Gives me the exact channel.

It's a music video station.

There's a banner running across the bottom, advertising Lucas Wolfe's solo video premiere. My phone vibrates in my hand. I look down at it to find another text from Kylie.

Just . . . watch the damn video. Pretty please for me.

This is one of those moments where I seriously consider changing my phone number again, but I roll my eyes and slide down in my grandmother's recliner. I place my cell phone on the coffee table. The video begins at exactly 9pm, and it's different from any Your Toxic Sequel video – almost poetic. Lucas is sitting on a stool, blindfolded. Instead of lip synching along to the music, he's holding up giant flash cards.

It takes me a few moments to realize the song, a moody, sexy ballad called "10 Days" uses the background music Lucas and I wrote together on the night he bent me over the piano. It takes me an additional couple seconds – because the sudden wetness in my thin cotton panties is a distraction – to comprehend that the words on the cards aren't words at all, but numbers that count down from 10 to 1.

And then, I finally understand that the cards he's holding up every two or three lines indicate a message within the song meant exclusively for me.

It's an outrageous, Lucas-eque way of getting in touch with me. Keeping absolutely silent, I listen to the rest of the song, mentally repeating each line that contains a piece of the puzzle. And as the music pulses in my ears, I feel a thousand silk ribbons wrap around my heart and squeeze.

8. But you're probably saying

7. fuck me right now because I

6. screwed you when you wanted to

5. trust me. You've still got two

4. days left, so I'm giving you

3. the honest truth, saying sorry, making it right.

2. Just . . .

The pit of my stomach aches with the familiar pang of longing and fear as I wait for him to hold up the final card, the missing piece of the message. That old, weak part of me tells me that I should turn off this video now; that I should I should forget Lucas because all he'll cause me is more hurt.

I tell that part of me to shut the fuck up.

I'm breathless when the music ends and then Lucas pulls down the blindfold and holds up the last flashcard to nothing but silence. Then, my front door is shaking. Someone drums hard on the wood, the tempo as fast as my heartbeat. Suddenly, I've got this vivid image of the day in court months ago – how Lucas had drummed his long fingers on the table in front of him.

Lucas pulls me into his arms the moment I open the door, closing his arms around me. I bury my face into his shoulder as he says finishes the song. "Say that what happened isn't it for us."

I don't care about Sam or the skeletons in his closet because it's all shit that can be overcome. I only know that he's here. Holding me. Touching me. Devouring me.

The red ribbons constricting my heart slowly unravel, fall to the ground. Free me.

"It's not . . . Sir."