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He bought me, but not to touch or taste. He bought me to save me, and to atone for past sins.
Handsome and mysterious, he swoops in to offer me a new life, but this is no knight in shining armor. He’s cold, hardened by his past. But there’s an inferno underneath the ice, I can feel the heat each time he looks at me—each time he gives in to the desire between us.
No matter how much I push to unleash the fire in his eyes, he shoves back harder each time. He’s merciless with his cruel words, telling me how naïve I am, how little I know of the world.
But I’m stronger than he thinks.
When we face down our demons from the past, I’ll prove which one of us was in need of saving, and which one of us is the savior.
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A night with a virgin: $10,000.
My stomach grumbled and I couldn’t tell if it was from the nausea rolling through at the headline. Or from the hunger pains ripping through me.
I’d sat at this same computer at the library a week ago. I’d been searching for quick ways to make money and the suggestions started with using apps to save a buck on your groceries, which was useless since I didn’t have a phone or money for groceries. After about thirty-two more clicks down a dark rabbit hole, I’d found something I could use for money. Me.
My sister had stripped and done God knows what in the back room, but I’d always promised I wouldn’t sell myself for money. I’d rather starve, which was my current situation.
Apparently, I wouldn’t rather starve because here I was considering selling my virginity just to lessen the pain. I reasoned that it was just a night. It was just once. I wasn’t a prostitute. I was just a desperate girl trying to gain some traction in my life.
I’d seen the site and saw how much people were willing to pay. Then I’d read a comment about how much someone would pay for a virgin. My jaw hit the floor, my mind racing with the possibilities of what that kind of money could do. I could go to college. I could pay the rent. I could pay for electricity and groceries. My mouth had watered at the mere thought of something other than stale PB&J and ramen. So, I’d printed it off the screen to save the link and quickly ran to grab the paper before anyone saw it.
Folding it up, I stuck it in my pocket and carried it with me everywhere, constantly weighing the pros and cons.
Last night, after another late shift at the grocery store, I counted out the twenty dollars I had left over for the month and realized groceries weren’t in the budget. My stomach had rumbled in protest and the paper had burned a hole in my pocket. I made a decision then and there.
I’d stolen some of my sister’s makeup, highlighting my blue eyes and tousled my black hair, adding red lipstick for the Snow White look, and headed to the library. The camera on the computer wasn’t great, but it worked. I uploaded it to the site and typed up the offer. All I had to do was hit enter.
“We’re getting ready to close,” the librarian called from the doorway.
I took one last deep breath, closed my eyes, and hit enter.
Done. It was done. My eyes glued to the chat box, waiting for a notification to pop up like someone would respond within the second, but nothing happened. My shoulders dropped and my heart sank. Maybe it was all for nothing. Maybe no one would want me anyway and I’d worried for no reason. The possibilities vanished like wishes in the wind.
Feeling defeated, I closed out of the browser and grabbed my bag. I stopped by the bathroom to fill up my water bottle with clean water before heading home. I didn’t want to look in the mirror, not wanting to see what met my eyes, but I couldn’t help myself.
Smudged eyeliner. Hallowed cheeks. Pale skin. Dull eyes.
I struggled to find the determination to persevere that usually lingered behind the blue eyes my mom claimed would captivate any man.
But it was still there. I had all the determination I could muster and it had to be enough. Lifting my chin, I clenched my jaw and stared, daring the girl in the mirror to deny we would make it. Before I could falter, I turned away and walked out, heading home.
My stomach rumbled again and I curled in on myself with each step. Thinking of the twenty dollars I had, I decided I could peel a few singles off to buy a couple packs of ramen.
The lights were on at home when I turned the corner into the trailer park. I took a deep breath to prepare myself for my sister before pushing the door open.
Smoke wafted past me, escaping into the night air and I cringed at the acrid smell. I hated the stench of pot. I also hated the disgusting man sitting next to my sister on the couch.
They were both hunched over, her kneeling on the floor leaning down to suck up a white powder through a paper, and him crushing the pills to make powder.
“I told you not to bring that shit here.”
Both their heads jerked up. My sister’s eyes were already glossy and unfocused, her body swaying from the motion of jerking upright. Oscar’s were more clear as they scanned me up and down with a disgusting smirk that made my skin crawl.
“Didn’t,” he said. “Your sister is treating me tonight.”
Leah smiled up at Oscar like he told her she was the prettiest girl in the world.