“To those of you who have been here before, please keep in mind the rules. To those of you who are new”—Valentina looks right at me, first and foremost, and then at a few other guests—“the rules are as follows.”

She places both hands on the sides of the glass podium; there’s nothing on top of it that she’d be reading from because she knows the rules by heart.

“You do not have permission to approach the merchandise for further inspection unless you are willing to pay for it. All of you will be able to see the merchandise undressed from where you are, but to get a closer look, you must raise your red paddle, which is your way of agreeing to the examination price—you bid only with the black paddle. Secondly,” she goes on, “you are not to speak directly to the merchandise; if you would like it to stand a certain way, to bend, or to speak so you may hear the voice, you request it of the seller and he or she will give the order. The same goes for touching: you are not to touch, skin on skin, what you do not own. If you require a more thorough examination of the merchandise, latex gloves will be provided, but that too must be paid for. Lastly, your opinion of the merchandise is just that: your opinion. You are not permitted to speak to other buyers about any conclusions, positive or negative, you have drawn after closer examination”—Valentina glances at me once more; she must’ve been informed of my little show with Trevor Chamberlain and the left-handed servant girl—“If other buyers want to know more about the merchandise, they must pay the examination price as well—not be given complimentary information—so that they may draw their own conclusions.” She looks at me again. I smile vaguely.

“And as always”—Valentina looks back out at the crowd—“if you have any questions about the merchandise, please raise your hand—not your paddles; you raise a paddle and you pay; accidents must always be met with punishment, ladies and gentlemen.” A low wave of laughter moves through the crowd.

“With that said,” she adds, “let us begin.”

A flurry of whispering voices and the shuffling of bodies against the seats spills out over the vast space as each buyer reaches underneath their chairs to retrieve two paddles, one red one black, affixed to the underside. I do the same once I realize that’s what they’re doing.

Valentina remains standing at the podium in all her mysterious grace, looking out at the crowd, waiting for everyone to get situated. She’s dressed in a pinkish-gold dress—like a conch seashell—that hangs to the top of her knees, decorated in strips of cream-colored lace; thin straps hang about her shoulders; mile-long tanned legs; eyes painted dark; lips the color of a pink rose. She doesn’t look at me again, which intrigues me. I can’t tell if the bitch has an interest in me and she’s playing hard to get, or if all of her surreptitious glances are just her keeping her suspicious eye on a potential rival—I’m beginning to think it’s more the latter.

But where the hell is the so-called Francesca Moretti?

Just as that thought enters my head, she walks out onto the stage escorted by my favorite cocksucker, Emilio. And behind them, Miz Ghita comes out with two servant girls: the left-handed one named Bianca, and another dark-haired girl with striking similarities, clearly two of Francesca’s favorite pets. Three men in suits and bowties come out afterward, each carrying a chair, and place them side by side behind and to the right of Valentina at the podium. The men leave as ‘Francesca’, Emilio and Miz Ghita sit down; the servant girls remain standing next to Miz Ghita, their hands folded down in front of them, their eyes lowered.

Valentina prepares to speak again, licking the dryness from her lips, swallowing, looking out into the crowd of onlookers. Then from behind, a man walks out onto the stage, dressed in a suit and tie; his hair is blond, short, neat, and he’s young, in his middle twenties maybe—he kind of reminds me of Dorian Flynn, minus the impish smiles, wisecracking mouth, and sexually whipped personality of a man in love. Nah, this guy has probably never smiled in his fucking life; has more important things to do than to act a fool like Dorian; and as far as being in love, or being ‘sexually whipped’—he knows how that feels about as much as a wealthy man knows what it’s like to live on the streets, eating out of dumpsters.

This particular man is a master, as will be all of the escorts who bring out the ‘merchandise’ onto the stage. And the young blond-haired girl walking in front of him has probably spent the last several months of her life being trained for this very moment. She could’ve been fresh out of high school; a college girl just starting out, working as a waitress somewhere; or maybe even still in high school when she was abducted. She’s still young; can’t be older than nineteen. I wonder how long it took for him to break her.

“Our first piece up for bid tonight,” Valentina announces, speaking into the microphone, “is a Class B girl from France”—(Class B, denotes non-virgin; nineteen years of age or younger)—“She was fully trained and obedient in under three months; is fluent in French and English; she can play the violin, and has a pleasant singing voice. Yes, what is your question?” Valentina points at Trevor Chamberlain sitting two seats down from me.

“Does the girl have any freckles on her chest area?” Trevor speaks up, his smooth voice rolling over the audience as if he were also speaking into a mic.

Valentina looks to the girl’s master.

The master, with his hands clasped behind his back, answers clearly, confidently, “There are six freckles on her chest area, light in color.” He gently grasps the hem of her little white dress and pulls it over her head, afterward dropping it on the floor.

The girl stands naked in front of the crowd, her slender arms down at her sides; she doesn’t tremble; nothing about her posture suggests that’s she’s tense or afraid or angry—she’s whatever her master wants her to be, inside and out.

The master points out each freckle; I can see a few darker freckles on her arms, but the master is smart not to draw attention to anything that’s not in question.

I glance over at Trevor Chamberlain—he likes the girl; freckles on the chest must be something he has a particular fondness for.

Trevor raises his hand again, almost eagerly.

Valentina nods, giving him the go-ahead.

“Being fluent in two languages,” he begins, “as well as playing an instrument suggests that the girl might’ve come from a wealthy family—is she still being searched for?” His question translates: I’m not interested in buying a girl whose family has enough means and wealth to eventually find her.

“You are correct,” the master says, “the girl was from a wealthy French family, but I can assure you no one is looking for her; she will be a fully secure purchase.”

“But how can you be so sure?” Trevor asks, this time without raising his hand; Valentina doesn’t seem overly annoyed by this, but she does make note of it.

“Because it was her family who sold her to me,” the master says.

Interesting—a family that doesn’t need money because they’re already wealthy, yet they sell one of their own to a slave master? Interesting, but not unbelievable. And strangely enough, not uncommon. This is a fucked up world, after all.

Trevor has no other questions.

I glance at Izabel sitting next to me, and she’s as unaffected as she was when she walked in here: she watches and listens quietly; her expression is calm and composed, not so much as a frown readable on her face—but it’s only a matter of time.

A few more questions come from other buyers in the crowd, and then one buyer raises his red paddle so that he can go onto the stage and examine the girl further.

The girl never flinches.

Neither does Izabel.

And when the price is paid for the buyer to touch the girl, and he stretches a pair of latex gloves over his hands, still, neither the girl nor Izabel show any signs of discomfort. Not even when the girl is bent over and forced to put her head between her legs and grasp her ankles. And lastly, when the potential buyer puts his covered fingers inside the girl to feel how tight she is, she and Izabel remain unaffected.

I still say it’s only a matter of time, Izzy.

Two buyers—Trevor Chamberlain is not one of them—bid back and forth until one purchases her for half a million dollars. Shit, I can’t imagine how much a virgin will fetch in this place.

Finally after forty-five minutes and six Class B girls—and one guy—later, a Class A is brought out onto the stage. Class A denotes a virgin and can be any age, but usually they’re under twenty years. I’m fucking relieved, and kind of surprised, that there have been no underage girls or boys here.

This particular girl, with waist-length strawberry-blond hair, pale pink skin with hundreds of freckles, can’t be older than twenty. She, like every other broken soul brought out before her, stands naked, obediently and beautifully in front of the vultures waiting to pick her apart.

“What work has the virgin had done?” one buyer asks from the crowd.

“Dental was provided,” the master answers. “All of her teeth have been replaced with implants. She has also had her birthmark removed.” The master points out the area on her hip where the birthmark had once been.


Tags: J.A. Redmerski In the Company of Killers Book Series
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