Kenzie’s eyes were closed, but she could feel all of the eyes on her. The lights beat down on her, feeling like desert heat. A tight purple and black corset made her shape even more pronounced. The tight pants, tall boots were her signature. Long, black hair ran over her shoulders. She could feel the nervousness rush away to be replaced with elation. It was time to put on a show.
She opened her brown eyes, took in the crowd. The stadium was full. As a grin slipped onto her lips, the concert goers screamed. Kenzie raised an arm, the jewelry shifting down her arm as she did. The screams became even louder. She loved this part. Loved the seconds right before the performance when they ate from the palm of her hands, when the cheering felt like the only thing she needed to survive. Her left hand raised the microphone to her lips.
“Hello, Los Angeles! Let’s get this thing started!”
Kenzie’s right hand dropped. The music started. She was alive. She walked across the stage, the lyrics pouring from her lips easily. They called her the pop-rock princess. The punk primadonna. She was bringing back music in a whole new way. None of that mattered to Kenzie. She lived only for the feeling she got when she began to sing.
As the concert started coming to a close, Kenzie felt that longing feeling she so often got when it was time to stop. She just wanted to go on forever. As usual, she’d gone over her two hour time frame. Her manager was standing offstage, clipboard in hand, tapping his foot and the screen of his phone. It was time to start packing up. Kenzie finished the song, the last of the lyrics struggling to break free.
“Well, that’s the end. Just for now! I hope to see you all soon. I love you guys!”
As she waved, the crowd went crazy. Just for her. The butterflies returned to the pit of her stomach. She was pretty sure there was nothing that compared to that feeling. As she walked off of the stage, she smiled. As much as she hated to see it end, she had to admit that she was tired. The first thought on her mind was heading back to the hotel and soaking in the world’s hottest bath. First, there were meet and greets. It was another part of the night she enjoyed. Signing autographs, kissing cheeks, taking pictures. First, she had to retouch her makeup though.
Kenzie pushed inside the room that had been set up for her. Soft light filled it up. She sat down on a chair in front of the vanity. Her makeup was still laid out earlier from Fiona. Kenzie slipped a piece of gum into her mouth before she started applying her makeup again. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a brief flurry of movement. She turned in her seat. The room was empty. She sighed.
“I swear, after show come down is like detoxing from drugs.”
When her makeup was back in place she decided to loosen her corset a bit. She would throw a jacket over it so no one could tell, but she was beginning to feel like breathing might be an issue in a very short frame of time. Her hands brushed over her smooth, brown skin as she loosed the strings. A sigh of relief filled the room. Better.
Kenzie turned in time to see someone step up to her in one smooth motion. She stumbled back. She could barely make out the man’s face. Partly because of the hood, mostly because of the shining silver knife he held in his hand. She took another step back towards the door.
“Don’t make another move,” the voice said.
Kenzie stopped. Her heart rose up to her throat. She was trembling all over, unable to control her rapid breathing. The man was smiling. Blond hair peaked out from beneath his gray hood.
“What do you want?”
“Well, let’s see. I’ve written to you dozen of times, telling you how much I love you. And you, you’ve ignored every last one of those letters, Kenzie. Do you remember who I am at all?”
Kenzie’s mind was reeling. It was impossible to tell who was who anymore as far as her fans. She received thousands of emails, letters, presents every month from fans. However, she didn’t want to tell this guy that he was just a speck in the crowd.
“O-of course I do. It’s just that I’ve been really busy. You know, touring and stuff.”
The man laughed. “Bullshit. You don’t know who I am. I know you’re going to die though. Maybe you should have been a little less self-absorbed.”
The man rushed at her, but Kenzie threw herself from his path. Her ribs banged against a dresser, the wind slipping from her body. Her fingers clutched the dresser as she tried to pull herself up, tried to breathe. She felt him work his hand into her hair. The man slammed her head against the dresser, hard. She went dizzy, felt blood trickle from the wound. Kenzie cried out before he slapped a hand over her mouth. Her gaze fell to the floor where the knife lay. Only thinking about living, she threw her head back into his nose. She heard a crack. It was enough to make him let her go. The pain in her head intensified.
Kenzie dove for the knife, the tears filling her eyes made her vision hazy. Her hand curled around the handle of it, but he was dragging her back by her ankle. He kicked his boot into her stomach. Kenzie doubled over from the pain, her breathing ragged. As she forced herself to think clearly, to escape, she felt it. It was white, hot pain filling her up, her voice had torn from her throat, the scream deafening even to her. She pressed a hand against the wound. Blood covered her hand. There was the rushing sounds of footsteps, yelling, screaming. Kenzie felt the world slipping away.
I’ve never passed out before. I wonder if that’s what this is or if I’m dying?
She tried to keep herself awake, but it wasn’t working. She wondered when the door had been opened. People poured into the room around her. Someone pressed down on the knife wound, hard. There were too many faces, too many voices. She couldn’t tell who was who. It was too much. She drew in a shuddering breath before her eyes closed.
Kenzie woke up to bright lights. After being in the darkness for what felt like forever, it was painful. She lifted her hand, it was so heavy, before she ran it over her eyes, something cold slid across her face. She jumped. An IV hung from her arm. She looked at the tube closely, confused. What was she doing in the hospital? A woman walked in wearing scrubs. Shock ran over her face. The woman told her she’d be right back before she disappeared from the room. Kenzie knew there was something she was forgetting. What was it?
A hand ran down over the stiff material of the hospital gown. She stopped when she reached her belly. Slowly, it was coming back to her. The man in gray, the knife, her head. She pressed a hand to her head. She rolled up her nightgown quickly, the long scar there stitched together. Her fingers ran over it, a sob choked her.
“Ms. Matthews, it’s good to see you awake.”
“What happened to me? I remember singing, my room, a man…”
The doctor walked over to her, pulled a chair to her bedside. The confusion didn’t dissipate from her eyes. The man sighed.
“Yes, I know your memories are still a little foggy. We’re hoping that it’ll clear up in a few days. There was an…incident in your dressing room. You hit your head pretty hard and sustained a knife wound. You’re going to be okay…you were just out for a little while.”
“In a coma.”
The words swirled in her brain. In a coma. In a coma. Her hands shook. None of it was real, she had to be dreaming. She shook her head softly.
“No, that can’t be right.”
“It is. You weren’t out for very long. Only a month. Still, it can take some getting adjusted to.”
“I was in a coma for a month?”
The doctor nodded. “Yes, we didn’t know how long you were going to be out-”
“Will you stop saying that? Stop saying I was out like I went to the fucking grocery store! I was in a coma for a month and this is how you tell me? Get out of my room! Get out!”
The doctor stood up quickly before retreating as she screamed again. She asked the nurse to find her cellphone. When it was brought to her she threw it across the room, the black screen breaking. Kenzie couldn’t breathe. The doctor came back in, worried. He took a syringe of something out of his pocket and pushed it into her IV line. She protested, but not for long as she fell back asleep. This time, the only company was the returning nightmare of the man in gray, stabbing her in the stomach.
Six months had flown by for Kenzie. The first few days p.c., post coma she joked with her friends, had been hellish. She had nightmares every time she went to sleep. Her muscles didn’t work the same, so physical therapy had come next. That was painful, frustrating. She felt like a toddler who hadn’t yet learned to walk, only she couldn’t crawl much either. Kenzie described all of these things to her friends as if it was the height of humor. Inside, it hurt. She wouldn’t show them that hurt or anyone else. Instead, she masked it. No matter how hard she tried to act normal, everyone seemed to know she had changed.
Kenzie was staying at her parents for a weekend, visiting them, when she heard her mother whispering to her dad. Their voices were so low, she could barely make them out. She knew they were talking about her though.
“She’s not the same, Dante. She’s short, angry and wild. I just think it might be a good idea to suggest her seeing someone.”
Her father groaned. “Leave it alone. She’s always had a little bit of a temper.”
“It’s worse now. I’m telling you, there’s something wrong with her. She needs help.”
“If she wants it, she’ll get it. I can’t force her to do anything and neither can you. So, for now, please just drop it.”
Kenzie dipped out of the hallway before either of them left. She suppressed the tears that threatened to spill. She knew they were right, but what could she do? There wasn’t one person who would understand, who could relate to what it felt like to almost die. Not a shrink anyway. She turned on her heels, making her way upstairs to her old bedroom. It was time to go. Her manager, Marco, had been hard at work for her. She had a returning concert, a new album to work on and countless TV appearances. She turned down the ones that wanted to talk about her tragic accident. She’d relived that moment more times than she cared to already.
She picked up her backpack before tossing it over her shoulder. The sound of her sneakers on the wooden stairs brought both of her parents from the kitchen. Her mom was wiping her hands on a cloth while her dad just looked concerned.
“Where are you going so quickly?” Her mom asked.
“I told you, I have a lot of things to do.”
“You’ve barely had time to heal.”
Kenzie shrugged. “I’m not dying, that’s all that matters.”
She left kisses on both of her parents cheeks before she stepped outside. The afternoon sun was brilliant, but she didn’t feel it the way that she had before. There was a sense of darkness in everything now. A sense that she would never go back to being the happy, carefree person that she’d been before. She walked down the street, wishing she could drive her car again. It felt weird being twenty-five and not able to drive. Still, walking would clear her head at least. She heard the car pull up beside her, but she didn’t even spare a glance. It was just her driver. He could cruise along beside her until she felt like getting in, then he’d take her to the studio. It was better than going home at least. At the moment, she couldn’t stand the thought of going back to that big, empty space all alone.
Her mother’s words played through her mind again. She couldn’t help it if she was different now. It wasn’t everyday you got stabbed in the gut. She doubted that a lot of people would act the same. Still, the words bothered her more than she liked. Things were so different now. Some of her friends had stuck around, but some disappeared. She was sure some of them were just hanging around for the exposure. Headline: Loving friends stick by brain damaged friends side. She scoffed. There were only two people that she trusted out of her group of friends now, the ones that had been around since she was still a child. Cassie and Benjamin. Even before she’d gone into the hospital, Benjamin had been kind to her. She’d always gotten the feeling that he really liked her, but she was too nervous to ask him. Now, things were going to be different. Kenzie refused to let anything get in the way of what she wanted anymore.
They pulled up in front of the studio just as two o’clock flashed on the screen on her phone. Before the driver could get out to open her door, she stepped out of the car with ease. Her hair had been dyed a dark pink, the short skirt she wore slid up her thighs as she walked in the tall, yellow heels. She supposed she could understand why people said she had changed, she just refused to not do what she wanted to do anymore. Life was too short. Kenzie pushed the front doors open before riding the elevator up to her managers office. She had to give it to him, he’d done a pretty good job with keeping the press away. It was nice not to have to press through throngs of people wherever she went, at least for now. She knew this kind of peace couldn’t last forever.
As she walked into the office, Marco sat behind his long, glass desk, his cellphone pressed to his ear. He was yelling at someone, as usual. Kenzie sat down in the chair across from him. He eyed her, shook his head. The woman raised an eyebrow at him as if she were asking problem?
“Yeah, yeah, I understand that! What I’m asking you to understand is that I have little to no patience. Fix it!”
Marco hung up the phone before throwing it onto his desk. He stood up, adjusting the slick suit that he wore. In Kenzie’s eyes, the man was a walking advertisement for every major label known to man. He adjusted the expensive looking watch she knew he hardly even looked at. It was just another piece of expensive shit to make him look pretty.
“What’s with the ‘I’m a skank’ routine?”
“Fuck you Marco, what do you want?”
“Wow, I heard you’d grown an edge these days. I didn’t think you’d gone all demon queen on me.”
Kenzie rolled her eyes. “Did you call me here for a reason? Or was it just to get on my nerves?”
“Calm down. I wanted to talk to you about the new album. Things like, when are you going to start working on it?”
“I told you, I will.”
“Yeah, you said that. When? I understand if you still need time off, but you’re the one who said you were ready to go. You’re the one-”
“I said I’ll do it! Damn, get off my back. You’re like my second mom, I don’t need another one.”
Kenzie had risen out of her chair. She crossed her arms over her chest and walked across the room. She had to get out of his face for a moment, to get out of the range of his ever deepening Italian accent the more angry he became. There were awards on the wall, expensive art beside it. There were pictures of all the people Marco had helped raise to fame. On the end, there was a picture of her. It was taken over a year ago. She was smiling, his arm around her neck as they posed at an award show. She hadn’t won anything, but it was a thrill back then just to be a part of the ride. And she hadn’t let it hold her down. Instead, she’d busted her ass twice as hard to try to get where she wanted to be.
The woman turned around slowly. Marco had calmed down, but what replaced the upset in his eyes was pity. That angered her. She walked over to her chair, grabbed the bag beside it before he gripped her arm. She tried to pull away, but he simply stood there, holding her in place.
“I’ve got places to be.”
“No, you don’t. We have to talk. Sit down.”
Marco released her arm. She glared at him through narrowed eyes, but she sat down. He leaned against the desk, crossing his legs at the ankle as his arms crossed over his chest. Kenzie started to make a smart remark, but the look in his eyes was serious.
“What’s going on?”
“I don’t know how to tell you this…so I’ll just show you.”
Marco reached onto his desk. When he turned around, there was a newspaper in his hands. He gave it to her. Kenzie was almost nervous what she’d see on the paper, some new story detailing her tragic accident or her new behavior. Something saying she was having a nervous breakdown, that she was out of control. It was all within the realms of possibility. She opened the paper slowly. The headline at once grabbed her attention. It was so much worse than she thought it would be.
Celebrity Stalker Released From Prison
Kenzie’s heart began to beat wildly. She felt the cold, sweat that often appeared when she thought about that night. Her eyes scanned the article, her heart racing out of control She had refused to have anything to do with anything when she came out of her coma, let alone read about it or watch a news story. Now, she wished that she had. The article said that the man they had in custody, who they’d thought was her attacker was in fact innocent. She glanced at the picture. It wasn’t him. It wasn’t the man in the gray hoodie. She threw the paper away from her as if it were poison. Kenzie couldn’t breathe.
She reached into her bag, fumbled through the growing mess for her pill bottle. When she found it, she could barely open it. Marco took the bottle, popped it open and slipped two pills into her palm. She swallowed them before he handed her a glass of water that had been sitting on his desk. Gradually, the panic began to melt away until it was a dull ache in the pit of her stomach. She shook her head.
“How can this have happened?”
“There were no witnesses, besides you. When you were still in the coma, they did the best they could with the evidence they had. They’re still looking Kenzie. It’s only a matter of time.”
“So, what do I do now?”
“Well, that’s up to you. We can move you somewhere far away. Somewhere I’m sure he could never even afford to go. Or you can stay, try to continue your career.”
“How? How can I do that with the thought of him always being there now?”
“I thought of that.”
Marco leaned over his desk, pressed a button on his phone. He spoke to his receptionist for a moment before he hung up. When he was done, the door was being pushed open slowly. Kenzie watched as a man stepped around the doorway.
It was almost like staring at an image of Marco, only younger and taller. The man had dark, wavy hair, astonishing blue eyes and thin, pink lips. His face was stern, professional. He walked over to them before clasping his hands in front of him. The smell of some exotic cologne filled the air.
“This is Gianni, my cousin. He’s been in the business of bodyguarding probably since you were still in middle school. He’s good at what he does. What do you think?”
Kenzie looked him up and down. “If I can sing, I’ll do anything.”
Enjoyed that? Want to read the rest? Then click to get this interracial love story book now.