The I-15 between Los Angeles and Vegas is one that is called the Lost Souls Highway. Driving into Las Vegas, the bright lights draw you in like a moth to a flame, but that long drive home can be the one that takes you straight to hell.

No one plans on losing everything when they arrive, but the reality of it all is that nobody wins, or do they? Some have to sell their souls to the Devil to make it out alive. I remember the day I signed away my life to the man in the suit. It was that or letting the vultures rip off little chunks of flesh until the sun ate my bones. I never did enjoy the heat.

“What the fuck do you mean he checked out?” I growled.

The desk clerk begged for me to lower my voice, but the youth inside me won out. Each word I spoke elevated like that sound nails on a chalkboard makes. It wasn’t until a crowd gathered that I realized that it just wasn’t my day.

A soft tap on my shoulder forced my voice to stop. I was looking into the bluest eyes I had ever seen. Whoever this man was, he was able to silence my overbearing mouth without effort.

“The boss would like to see you. If you could give him a minute or two of your time, you might find that this situation will clear on its own,” he suggested.

I will admit that his voice was liquid silk, and for a brief moment, I felt as though my veins filled with warm honey. I don’t swoon over anyone, but this one, well god help me, he hypnotized me as I stood there lost. I am sure the hotel staff thanked him, or was this all part of the grander plan.

Lacing my arm in his as he offered, the walk to the “Boss” had me feeling like the floor was pillows. Each step like walking on clouds. I didn’t know who this man was, or who employed him, but suddenly I didn’t even care. Little did I know, I was walking into the lion’s den, and nothing in life would ever be the same.

“Miss Kennedy’s here to see you,” he said.

“Come in. I’ve expected you for some time now. Take a seat,” he said.

I have no idea who this man is, but the office drips money from the air ducts. You can sense the authority in his voice and the way he carries his words. I am not intimidated by men, but the moment I took the seat, I was thankful my legs hadn’t collapsed beneath me.

Arching a brow, he had piqued an interest in me. With my hands folded in my lap, I had to ask. I needed to know who the hell this man was, and why did he expect me?

“I don’t mean to be tart with my words, but who the hell are you, and why did you expect me?” she said.

Reaching across the table, opening a wooden box, the moment he did, I knew what it contained. My father smoked the same brand of cigars. A quick clip of the tip, the male, placed the Cuban cigar in his mouth, lighting it until it glowed a cherry red. My eyes fixed on the long cylinder object. I was not too fond of how it made me feel. All of those nights, my father invited his friends over. The entire room would reek of tobacco and bourbon. There was always bourbon on their breath. At times I wished that their mouths would ignite with fire from the warmth of the smoke and the combination of alcohol. I was never lucky enough to witness the act, but many nights I laid in bed and plotted all of their deaths.

“I’m the man who is going to change your life,” he said.

I must have looked at this man as though he had three eyes and a horn between then. No one can change my life. Many tried, and many failed. I am a lost cause, or so my father told me at our last visit.

“and this bridge you want to sell me is located, where?” I snipped.

Furrowing his brow, the man stood, walking to the front of his desk and perching his ass on the corner. It was expensive, but then again, everything in this office was custom-built or imported from Italy. Being a Kennedy, I know my furnishing.

“What is it that you regret the most?” he asked.

If he thought I would open up my world to him, he was dead wrong. I regret the day I was born, the day I died, and the day that woman performed CPR and brought me back to life. What I regret the most was the scar on my shoulder that would never heal. I allowed the bite mark because I wanted nothing more than to give in to temptations, and when I did, I knew there would never be anything worth living for again.

“The bite mark on my shoulder. The one that will forever remind me of my trip down the lost highway of life,” I whispered.

Casting his eyes downward, I could feel the heat on my shoulder as though the male who placed it knew what I had said. He always told me it would be his way of finding me no matter where life took me.

Without a word, the male moved in front of where I sat, pulled my thin blouse to the side, and rolled the cigar’s lit tip over my flesh. I didn’t scream, but my fingers gripped the chair, nails digging into the dark walnut wood. Back and forth, the heat penetrated my flesh, not removing the scar, but adding a new one. Was this a pissing contest? Who could leave the most pronounced mark on my body? The pain was so intense that even the tears dried before they escaped. Was this what it meant to sell your soul to the Devil. Was this man the evil one, or was he just another sadist looking for a victim?

As the scent of burning flesh filled the room, I felt my stomach retch from the pungent aroma. I’m not too fond of the smell of anything burning, and this was the worst I have ever endured. So intense that the cries caught in my throat, and I swallowed each one. I will never allow a man to see my cry ever again. Crying is a sign of weakness, or so I was told once.

He pulled my shirt back, covering the fresh wound, but it was the words that followed that I would never forget.

“Your father is a Supreme court justice. I know this because I have a case pending at the end of the month. You will make this rule in my favor, or the hell that will rage inside of you is one you will never forget. Miss Kennedy, believe me when I say this, I will make you pray for death if you fuck this up,” he said.

“I can’t see my father. He is..” I whispered.

He reached down, pressing his fingers into the fresh burn on my shoulder, his voice raised for the first time.

“You will do as told or the last thing you will see it a bullet going through your brain. Remember to be careful what you ask for. The Devil was once an Angel,” he laughed.

Beware of the highway of lost souls. Taking a detour can be fatal.

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