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.
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.
But I knew I’d rather make a break for freedom and be on the run than to just accept whatever my fate was going to be.
I watched as my purchaser went to the cashier to arrange payment while I was pulled down the steps and out of the bright lights that had nearly blinded me.
We came to a stop beside the man who had bought me, and disappointment nearly crushed me as I realized my new owner was the very man who had given me momentary hope.
It was the dark-haired guy from the front row who had briefly met my eyes with what I’d perceived as kindness.
As usual, I’d been so damn wrong.
I blinked as he looked up at me, his expression now filled with anger.
“Cover her and release her!” he barked at the man still holding my chain.
My restraint was removed, and I was handed a dark cover-up that I quickly donned. It was thin, like something a woman would wear to cover a bathing suit, but I gladly pulled the material down over my privates, relieved that I could cover my body.
“Let’s go,” my new nemesis growled into my ear as he took my upper arm to guide me out of the club.
His grip was insistent and firm, but not painfully so.
I moved with him, anxious to get out of a club that was sleazy enough to auction off virgins, not caring whether the women were there willingly or unwillingly.
I had a feeling that nearly every woman being sold was completely unwilling, or had been forced to be here by tragedy.
I’d met two women in the holding area who had been sold off to somebody in a third world country. They’d been tourists in the US for a holiday, normal sightseers in a country that was the land of the free. I’m sure it had rightly never crossed their minds that they’d become victims of a kidnapping, and now it was entirely possible that they might never see their home countries again.
The two travelers had people who loved them back home, and I desperately wanted to help them. But I couldn’t do it as a prisoner.
I stumbled slightly to keep up with the man who now owned me. He wasn’t moving that fast, but my feet were bare. I occasionally stepped on what I assumed were peanut shells, but I was pretty sure I didn’t really want to know if it was anything else.
That’s when I noticed that my latest captor had a weakness, a slight limp to his step that I could probably use to my advantage. It wasn’t much, but considering his massive size and strength, I’d take whatever help I could get.
My heart nearly exploded with relief as I realized that I could probably outrun him if I could just get outside.
He pushed through the heavy wooden doors with a powerful arm, and I welcomed the humid air that suddenly enfolded me.
I took a deep breath, and ended up gasping, trying to suck up the outside air after being in a putrid environment for so long.
My escort released my arm as he motioned toward the parking lot to indicate that he was parked beside the building.
I was scared, but another quote floated into my mind:
Freedom lies in being bold!
I was pretty sure the great poet Robert Frost was responsible for writing that phrase, but I was too terrified to be certain. All I knew was that those words were completely true in my situation.
I had to have courage if I was going to live.
My buyer stepped forward to make his way to the parking lot.
And I took off like a shot in the opposite direction.
“Ruby!” I heard the irritated male bellow, but I didn’t stop.
I was pretty much determined to escape…or die trying.
Excerpted from "Billionaire Unloved (The Billionaire's Obsession) (Volume 12)" by J.S. Scott. Copyright © 2018 by J.S. Scott. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.