Since I’d been born wealthy, I knew how superficial my world could be sometimes. Maybe that was my motivation to be part of Marcus’s team. I wanted to make some kind of difference in the world, and not by donating money that was tax deductible.
Now that I’d had my come-to-Jesus moment, I knew I was never going to go down the same road as I’d been on most of my adult life.
Life was finite, and nobody knew that more than a guy who had cheated death.
I had no idea if there was a woman who could see more than my money when she looked at me. A woman who thought scars and a bum leg were no big deal. But if I did run into her somewhere, I sure as hell wouldn’t let her get away. I’d ask her to marry me on the spot.
If I didn’t meet her, I was better off alone.
I felt like my whole crappy life had led to the nightmare I was currently experiencing.
I was naked.
There was a chain around my waist that my captor was pulling on to propel me forward. Unfortunately, the guy pulling my chain—literally—was a whole lot bigger and heavier than I was, so I was forced to keep moving.
And in a matter of moments, I knew I’d be standing on a stage with plenty of buyers staring at my nude body and trying to decide how much money me and my virginity was worth to them.
My fight-or-flight instincts were screaming at me to escape. Flight would be my only option because I’d never been much of a fighter.
For me, resistance had always meant more pain. After the first few lessons as a child, I’d learned not to fight anymore because it didn’t gain me anything.
At least, it never had until now, but old habits and programmed behavior weren’t going to go away.
However, my panic was making me think I might have to change in a hurry.
I have to get the hell out of here!
I hated the fact that I’d gotten myself into this position because of my own stupidity, but regret wasn’t going to improve my situation. I was going to have to find a way to escape or suffer the consequences.
How had I ever fallen for my kidnapper’s story?
I’d been homeless and desperate when my abductors had offered me a job. Hunger had been a good motivator since I’d ended up accepting the offer because I hadn’t eaten in days.
Because of my bad decision, I hadn’t seen the light of day since I’d gotten into their car that day a few weeks ago. I’d been held in a bug-infested hotel room with barred windows and no chance of escape.
The only good thing about my makeshift prison had been the food. I’d been fed, but the meals hadn’t been given out of kindness or to build my strength to work an actual job. My kidnappers had wanted to fatten me up like a farmer wants to put weight on their cattle to make them more attractive to buyers.
My body was shaking as I was led onto the stage. I wasn’t terrified about being naked, which, in itself, would generally be terrifying. But I had more dire things to worry about, like who was going to bid high enough in this crazy virgin auction to own me, and what their plan for me might be after the sale.
Would I end up chained in the dirt in the darkness of a cellar or basement, never to be seen again?
Maybe there was no one who cared about me in this world, but I sure as hell didn’t want that fate.
I flinched as I was pulled into place on the stage and kept there by the man holding the chain.
The humiliation of being leered at by a crowd of men hit me like a powerful slam in the stomach.
I’d lived with humiliation all my life, and for a few seconds, I flashed back to some of those memories, something I never allowed myself to do. But my terror was out of control, and I had no way to defend myself or to make those images escape my brain.
I couldn’t see every pair of eyes watching me. But I felt the creepy sensation of being watched by many sets of eyes, and it made me want to drop into a fetal position to protect myself.
Don’t panic. Dani said she was going to rescue me.
The problem was, I didn’t really know Danica Lawson well enough to judge whether somebody would come to help me. But her promise was about the only thing I had to keep me going. We’d only met once in person, and talked on the phone a few times. She’d seemed nice enough, but I’d learned early in life that people let me down, and that the only one who really cared about my survival was me.