“That’s it,” she says, eyeing me with approval.
“You want me to go out like this? With no freaking top?” My question is ridiculous and I know it. This is Vegas, most women on stage around here are topless. It should be a given and it’s dumb that I’m here auctioning myself off and thinking I wouldn’t be topless myself.
“You have legs for days and your breast are perky as hell. Your nipples are some of the best I’ve ever seen, you should be proud.” She says the words like it’s a compliment and obviously I should know this. “You don’t have to tell them you’re a virgin, but you’re not putting a top on.”
With that, I know the discussion is final. I’ve learned working as an executive assistant when to push, and when to let things go. I knew winning the virgin argument was where it ended.
“You’re first.” Samantha motions me to follow her, and I’m shocked.
“First?” Jesus, I wanted to maybe stand back here and listen to a few rounds and get a little more comfortable standing around naked.
“I’ve been doing this a long time Mandy. I know what order I should put the girls in to get the best bidding out of everyone. This is after all still a business.”
I follow her, and then in a flash find myself standing in front of the black curtains. They’re closed, but I feel my heartbeat pick up, knowing that any moment they are going to part. Shit, without a shirt people might just be able to see my heart pounding in my chest.
I take a few deep breaths to calm myself, and to quell the urge to bolt. I close my eyes, and it hits me; this is the most alive I’ve felt in forever. I can do this, just like I’ve done everything else I’ve ever sought out to do. I’ve lived on the streets for almost a year when I was a teenager; if I can do that, I can do anything. I open my eyes and see Samantha standing in front of me.
“There she is. I was wondering when the girl I saw snapping orders and keeping her composure at the Cortez casino would show up.”
I smile at her words. I’m here to try and change part of who I am, but she's right, there are some things I want to keep in place. My will to power through anything is one of those things, and keeping calm under pressure is another. I just need to shift it to other parts of my life. I need to focus more on getting the things I want.
I gasp when I feel something cold hit my nipples, and I go to jerk away.
“Ice. Just making them nice and hard for the boys out there.” She goes back to applying the ice to my nipples making them harden instantly. “All set.”
She passes the ice back to her assistant, and stands in front of me adjusting my wings and hair just so. Samantha takes my shoulders and looks in my eyes, “You remind me a lot of myself, Mandy. Don’t you ever let go of the fighter inside you.”
She walks to the side of the stage, and it’s then I hear the auctioneer’s voice from the other side of the curtain.
“Good evening gentlemen. Let’s begin.”
The reality of it all hits home. The curtains are parting at any second, and a room full of men will be sitting there staring at me nearly naked. I shake my head letting some of my hair fall forward to cover my breasts. I can't help but look over at Samantha who gives me a ‘really’ look. I just shrug in response and smile. Sometimes a girl needs a little bit of a buffer and my hair is all I’ve got right now.
“Tonight, we begin with the stunning Mandy. This is her first time at the Mistress Auction. She’s new to us, and she’s eager to please.” The curtains draw open, and I can feel my breath catch, but I make myself release it slowly and calmly.
“With this sexy angel, we’ll start the bidding at fifty thousand dollars.”
“One million dollars.”
At the sound of his voice, my spine goes ramrod straight. I squint my eyes to try to find the source of the voice I’ve known all too well for the past four weeks. The lights shine brightly on the stage, and it makes it difficult to see anything. I take matters into my own hands and walk to the edge of the stage so the lights no longer block my view.
“You!” I point down at Charles who’s on the edge of his seat, looking like he’s ready to come out of it at any moment.
“We have one million to Mr. Townsend. Do I have two?”
The auctioneer carries on like I’m not causing a scene. I expect Samantha to come onstage and pull me back, but nothing happens. We just stand there, both of us staring at one another.
Why is he doing this? Is this to prove some point? Is he pissed that I defied him the other night at his casino, something no one ever does, so he’s here to make an example out of me? What’s he going to do? Drag me back to his hotel and make a fool out of me or something?
That’s when I see Aaron and Justin sitting next to him. Seeing them makes everything that much more complicated. Is he still trying to blackmail them? They aren’t jumping to outbid him to save me, so I’m going to take care of this myself.
Pulling my eyes away from their table, I make my way to the center of the stage, but I don’t retreat back into the light.
I look out at all the men sitting in the room, looking ridiculous in their costumes. None have yet bid against Charles, and I wonder if it’s because they’re scared of him. Most people are terrified of him, but maybe they just aren’t interested in what I’m offering.
Pushing my hair back like Samantha had it before, I let my body do some of the work. I put it on full display, and I trying to up my own price. Either Charles is going to pay out of the ass for me, or I’m going to go home with someone else.