Theirs To TakeBy: Natasha Knight
“No, not that one.”
I had never felt so relieved to hear Syn’s voice or feel his cane at my thigh as I did in that moment.
“That one isn’t for sale,” he spoke quietly, his tone low, but there was no question he would be obeyed.
I turned to meet his dark gaze. The grin that curled one corner of his mouth upward sent ice through my veins. He kept his black eyes on mine as he tapped the cane against the fronts of my thighs once, twice, then with a flick of his wrist, lashed me with it.
Tears stung my eyes nearly as badly as the rattan did my legs and I took a step backward, looking down at the welt rising where he’d struck, grateful that the man who had been considering me nodded with a reluctant growl before stepping to my right, to the next girl who stood shuddering beside me.
Gabriel, Syn’s brother, joined him. Both kept their eyes on me as Gabriel whispered something into Syn’s ear. Syn nodded, then turned his attention from me to the girl who was being handled now. Gabriel, the older, more stern of the two, approached me. My gaze faltered and my body shook but I refused to look away.
“Evangeline,” he said, calling my name. “Kneel.”
Once a girl was sold, she was made to kneel so that the next buyers knew who was still available. The girl beside me whimpered and I turned to see the large man weighing her breasts, turning her nipples in his fingers.
“I’d like to try her,” he said, his voice gruff.
Syn’s eyebrow went up. The girl stood upright, naked, her hands clasped at the back of her head. He looked her over, his gaze cold even as the girl now openly wept.
Syn turned back to the man. “You can look. You can even touch,” he said, turning the girl so she stood with her back to the man. He then pushed her forward, forcing her to bend deeply at the waist. “But you can’t fuck until you pay.”
“Evangeline.” Gabriel’s grip in my hair demanded my full attention so I could only listen to the girl’s whimpers as he brought his mouth to my ear. “I said kneel. Eyes down. And just be glad it isn’t you this time.”
Without giving me time to obey, he forced me down by my hair until I knelt. I stared up at him, but my defiance lasted only a moment when I saw the darkness in those beautiful, golden eyes. I cast my gaze to the ground before me, swallowing, shivering at what was to be my fate if the brothers truly kept me as I knew now they would.
The drive had taken me more than an hour out of the city and I now stood in heels and an evening gown, shivering behind the heavy support of a bridge, trying to keep out of sight. It was too late to turn back. They’d hear my four-inch heels clicking if I ran, but after what I’d seen, all I wanted to do was flee. When I’d followed him here, I hadn’t been sure what I’d expected to find, but it certainly wasn’t this.
“Where’s Jamison?” Arthur, my fiancé, snapped. I’d only recently become familiar with that harsh tone. He still wore the tux he’d had on at the fundraiser earlier this evening and looked at odds with the men who surrounded him.
“On his way. Had some trouble with one of the girls.”
I didn’t recognize the man who spoke, but I vaguely knew the one they referred to: Jamison. He worked for Arthur. I’d seen Jamison a few times, always in the background, never introduced, but always there, always watching.
“You’re not using enough of the sedative. How many times do I have to tell you that?” Arthur barked.
As I watched, he walked around to where two other men opened the back of a large livestock truck, which was parked not too far away, lined up neatly with several others.
“Let’s get them loaded and ready.” Arthur checked his watch. “Shipment’s got to move fast.”
The two men moved to a van standing nearby with its engine still running. When they opened the door and I saw what was inside, I gasped. I covered my mouth, hoping the rumbling of the engine would mask the sound. Arthur looked in my direction, but I hid behind the wide support, holding my breath.
“Let’s go,” he said.
I peered back around to watch as Arthur, a man I’d known for just over a year, the man with whom I lived, whom I thought I loved, hauled an unconscious woman over his shoulder and carried her to the waiting truck. There, one of the men took her, wrapped something around her wrist and handed her up to yet another man who stood waiting inside the truck. They did the same with a second woman, but they weren’t done yet. I watched, stunned and terrified as the men loaded four more women up into the same truck.
I was so engrossed with what was happening that I didn’t hear the sound of another vehicle approach, not until I stood flooded in its headlights. I turned to it, too shocked to move until it came to a stop, the front passenger door opening, a man running toward me. Suddenly animated, I screamed and ran, nothing but the clacking sounds of my heels in the dark night, followed too closely by the heavier footfalls of the men now pursuing me.
Someone tackled me, sending me sprawling onto the gravel road, pain shooting through my knees, the heels of my hands, my face as I hit the ground hard, the weight of the man on my back keeping me pinned. The fall knocked the wind out of me, leaving me gasping, and I’d never forget the smell of the man who held me down, his breath hot on the side of my face.