“Ah… We had one bought ahead of schedule. My boss was offered something he could not say no to.”

Beth is there, and so is one of her friends. But two of them are not…

“You said one? What about the other?” I ask.

His silence fills the small room and I can’t help but clench my fists. Fuck.

“Damn,” I hear Andrew through the line.

“We need to know who was bought, and what happened to the other,” Simon says.

“Well, I would like to pre-bid on a—”

“It’s not possible, I must apologize.”

“Is it pricing?”

“No.”

Even more fucking silence fills the air as I turn away from the man. I’m radiating calm, cool, and collected.

Fucking radiating it.

But I swear if I could turn around and grab this motherfucker’s balls, and yank them all the way up to shove down his throat, I fucking would.

Looking at the small screen, I watch as the faces scroll past.

It’s starting up now.

I swear I can feel the fear radiating from the captives through the walls of the cubicle as the main monitor pops on. The background on the screen flickers to life, and there on a pedestal, is the first entry for tonight’s auction.

It’s a young woman of Asian descent standing there, trying to cover her naked body the best she can.

Watching her eyes darting around in terror pulls at me, but I’m here on business. And as much as I would like to help, I won’t.

The small screen rolls around again and I spot a face has disappeared.

What the fuck?

The Asian woman’s face is still there while the bidding takes place, but one of Beth’s friends has disappeared.

It’s only Beth there now.

There were four fucking women when she came to my bar, and now it’s down to her, and I haven’t been able to do shit to stop them from disappearing.

Turning my head back to man in the box with me, I ask, “Why am I watching merchandise disappear from the screen? You guys don’t want us to all have a shot at bidding?”

“The merchandise has been sold,” he says with a shoulder shrug.

Motherfucker. Turning away from him, I know I won’t be getting information.

“And it was a virgin. I guess you guys are playing favorites with your buyers,” I mutter to the guy.

“Shit,” Andrews voice comes over the comm in my ear.

“Peter, look for anyone leaving the property!” Simon all but yells.

“James, try to neutralize any opposition.”

“Switch to comms channel two, Peter. James stay on this one,” Andrew orders.

Shit, now’s when things are going to get dicey.

As if Andrew can sense my unease that things are heating up, his voice comes through the comm. “Keep cool, Johnathan. Nothing to do but move forward.”

Fuck! He’s right, but I can feel my hand tightening hard around the glass. If Beth disappears off the screen, I have no clue how many people I’ll have to kill to get to her.

“Got some movement,” James says.

“Roger. Move to comms channel three,” Andrew orders.

The bodies flash past me on the screen as I keep my eyes on her picture. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

When it’s her turn, my eyes snap up to watch her get paraded out just as all the other women have been. She’s been labeled virgin, and it’s why my thoughts keep turning back to our kiss. The way she seemed so out of practice…

The bidding instantly leaves the twenty thousand dollar initial reserve price. Fuck, I can see that even if she wasn’t a virgin, she would reach higher than most of the women who have been sold.

Without turning my head, I say to the man behind me, “Bid until I’ve won.”

“Sir?” the man asks, and in my ear I hear Simon cursing loudly at me to shut the fuck up.

There’s a laugh somewhere on the line, but I can’t figure out who it is.

Turning my head from the woman standing there, naked, her arm across her full breasts with her other hand trying to hide her sex, I say, “I said bid on her until I’ve won. You’ve taken options from my client away. I will win this one. Do you understand or are you stupid?”

Not bothering to look at him any longer than I must, I turn my eyes back to Beth. Fuck, just the thought of someone looking at her naked form is enraging me. I’m trying to remain cool, but I can feel with each bid from someone else, my blood pressure is rising higher and higher.

The bidding is slowing down, but some asshole keeps bidding up by ten thousand dollars a shot.

Fuck it.

“Five hundred and fifty thousand,” I say to the man in the room as I bet past the four hundred thousand mark we’re currently at.

It’s time to put an end to this fucking shit.

“What did you just fucking say!?” Simon screams in my ear so loudly I can barely keep myself from slapping my ear.

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