I lifted my chin, determined not to let anybody know how scared I was. I’d been through bad situations before, and I refused to cower to these people who degraded women for entertainment. Some people got off on humiliating others, and I wasn’t about to give any potential buyers reason to pay more for a woman who would tremble and cry at their feet.

One thing I didn’t do was cry, even when I desperately needed that relief.

Crying gave tormentors power, and I refused to let go of what little dignity I still had left.

I’ll find a way to escape if Dani doesn’t come.

Getting free was my only hope, and because I was fed and rested, I was a hell of a lot stronger than I’d been when I’d been captured.

I tried to relax enough to get me to another place, to let my mind lead me to anywhere else but where I was at the moment. It was a childhood trick I’d adopted when I didn’t want to be aware of what was happening to me because it was too damn painful.

I tried, but I soon realized that escaping inside myself wasn’t going to work this time. So I stared into the sea of faces I could make out in the smoke-filled room.

The lights on the stage were bright enough that I couldn’t see much except the people closest to me in the first row or two of tables. My eyes moved and landed on one face, and for some reason, I couldn’t look away.

My rapidly beating heart tripped as I stared at the man in the front row.

For an instant, I felt comforted as he looked into my eyes, seemingly ignoring the fact that I was naked. Were his eyes trying to say something to me, or was I imagining it because I wanted to think he felt some kind of compassion for me?

As the auctioneer started to talk about the many ways I could be used and abused if I was sold to someone with darker fetishes, I broke eye contact with the dark-haired man.

There’s no kindness for me. It was obviously just a desperate thought. Nobody with a heart could sit and watch women get auctioned off like farm animals.

A moment later, I knew I was right when the man I’d hoped wasn’t looking at my body but was seeing me actually placed his own bid.

Nobody here cares about me. All they want is my body to use and abuse.

I blinked back tears as I continued to stare into the darkness at the back of the room, my body rigid even though all I wanted to do was collapse on the floor in a puddle of hopelessness.

I don’t cry. I never cry. I won’t give anybody here the satisfaction of knowing I’m terrified.

In a moment of weakness, I wished that I had mustered up the courage to somehow kill myself to avoid the humiliation that was washing over me in painful waves. Maybe I could have found a way to die, but my will to survive was stronger than my desire to sink into the oblivion of death.

I shook off the dark thought, knowing I’d never willingly give up my life, even though I felt like any hope of ever truly living had left me a long time ago.

I’ll get free. I’ll find a way.

I remembered a quote I’d read that was connected to Roosevelt: If you have reached the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.

I was clinging to my knot right now, a glimmer of hope I’d never been able to let go of, and I refused to release it.

I’d been inspired by quotes and literature all my life. Since the library was available to everyone, I’d spent most of my time there absorbing as much information and inspiration I could find between the pages of books and other information provided to the public for free.

In my youth, books had been my escape, my way of leaving my painful life behind for short periods of time.

As a homeless adult, it had been a place to stay warm or to cool off, a location that had always found me a place to belong and fit in. Even if it was only for a little while.

Unfortunately, there were no fairy tales for me to fall into right now.


That one word barked by the auctioneer jolted me back from my musings and into the position that was now my reality: naked, terrified, and on a stage in front of people who wanted to do me harm.

I’d just been sold like a horse at auction, and my reins were about to change hands.

My eyes darted around the room in horror, trying to find my way out.

I pushed my long brown hair back with a trembling hand. My price had gone over six figures, so even if I escaped, I knew I’d be hunted down like an escaped convict. Nobody was going to pay that much money and lose an expensive brood mare.

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