The security to get into this place was fucking intense. There wasn’t a single fucking spot on my body they didn’t feel up except my damn ear holes, thankfully.

Shit, even my freshly died hair was ruffled. They got some of that sticky shit Missy put in it on their hands, and I had to crack a grin. Looks like I’m not the only one who doesn’t care for the stuff.

As soon as I drove onto the property, I was carefully directed where to park then escorted into the warehouse where the auction will be taking place.

I highly doubt this is the same building they are keeping the merchandise in, though.

They wouldn’t be stupid enough for that.

They’re going to want a way to protect the livestock as much as possible from any potential threat beyond their own.

And fuck me. Yep, fuck me with a damn stick.

They’re putting me into a private booth.

There’s almost a dozen other booths around the one I’m politely, but firmly, shuffled into.

I get a quick look at the other men and women who’ve arrived around the same time as me and it looks like none of them are freaking out.

But shit, this means I’m more than likely going to be watched and monitored.

The armed man who is escorting me into the booth bows to me with his head before asking in a thick Russian accent, “Would you like a drink?”

Pausing a second, I try to think of a way to get word to the guys listening in about the situation I just got thrust into. “Yeah, rum neat. Will I have a viewing monitor of the live auction from this cube, or will they be strictly online? My… client would prefer that I can see the merchandise alive and moving before I buy.”

“It will be on the large monitor.” The man points to the screen. “They will be, as you, say moving. It will be on stage.”

“Excellent.”

“I need the account number we will be taking the money from.”

Repeating off the number I memorized to him, I can only hope we have enough in there.

The man leaves the room and I let out just one grouch. “Fucking stuck in a damn cubicle. How am I supposed to see the merchandise and get a feel for them?”

Simon comes through quickly over the comms. “Clear your throat to answer yes. Are you in a private booth which is most likely monitored?”

Fuck, I feel like a spy or some shit.

Clearing my throat, I hear him curse. “Dammit, this isn’t how they normally operate.”

“Perhaps they’re stepping up the security. The girl’s names could have come up to them somehow and they are ensuring this does not go awry,” Lucifer’s voice comes through in a smooth drawl.

“Find out their bidding method. I was able to hear the representative’s words so we should be able to get a better grasp from what he has to say.”

It’s not long after I take a seat in the comfortable leather chair that the man comes back with my drink. “Your drink, sir.”

Accepting the rum, I take a sip only to be shocked by the taste. This isn’t a cheap drink. No, the smoothness with which it goes down, and the subtle flavor, lets me instantly know it’s a label I probably couldn’t afford to drink more than once a year.

“Since my client was not able to attend, I want to become familiar with the bidding methods for tonight’s showing.”

“I will be with you throughout the bidding, sir. We will bring out the merchandise one at a time. There will be bidding only for that one. Then the next will be brought out. I will be here to send in a bid if you like what you see.”

Nodding my head at the small monitor beside the large one on the wall, I ask, “And the second monitor?”

“It will show current price, and it will show lineup. It updates as progress happens.”

“Ah, so I’ll know what has been bought?”

“Yes.”

As if speaking the words were magic, the second screen blinks on. A panel on the left side displays the faces of many women. Under each face is a dollar amount showing what I assume will be the starting bid.

Fuck. There’s more faces on there than even I can stomach.

It’s only with the grit of my fucking stomach I can ask in an even voice, “How many are for sale tonight?”

“Eighteen, sir.”

“What does he mean eighteen?!” Simon hisses in my ear. “It was twenty earlier today.”

“Has something changed in the lineup?” I ask as I stare at the one face that has brought me so much fucking heartburn.

Beth is there in front of me, on the small screen, her eyes so lost and haunted. This is not the woman I knew. Not the woman whose bedroom eyes had me feeling like a caveman.

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