"If there are no other bids…" the announcer begins.

My windpipe threatens to close. It can’t end like this…

"Seven hundred," the man directly in front of me says. His voice is smooth and rich. Deep and hypnotic somehow. I lean forward on my toes trying to see his face. The foot he’s crossed over his ankle bounces as he fidgets, the only sign he’s now engaged in this bidding war. My heart leaps in my chest, doubling its pace as I wait nervously to see what will happen.

Not being able to discern anything else in the room, I focus on his shoe. It is large, a black shiny leather, and expensive-looking dress shoe. But I suppose you have to be insanely wealthy to buy another human being for the prices these men are offering. His foot twitches again and my eyes shoot up to where I imagine his face is.

The other man grumbles something under his breath, and I catch the word overpriced. Then he barks out another bid. "Seven twenty-five."

Crap. I don’t want to be part of this weirdo's threesome fetish and I have no idea if going with Mr. Shiny Dress Shoes will be any better, but I stare straight ahead, silently pleading with him to up the bid. A dose of raw willpower keeps me steady on my feet.

"One million dollars," he says after what feels like an eternity.

My head spins and I feel faint. A million dollars? For me? There is no way I’m worth that as a sex slave. Once he realizes how inexperienced I am–not just at sex, but at everything–he’ll have buyer’s remorse, and maybe even try and return me. Yet still, I hold my breath, praying that no one will outbid him. Something inside me–woman’s intuition, a gut feeling, tells me that out of all these men here tonight, I am supposed to go home with him, but the thought of actually giving myself over to one of these monsters for six months is terrifying.

I have nothing to go on but a clean, sleek, black leather shoe… but he gives off a good vibe. Maybe at the very least I’d be well taken care of. Panic threatens to overwhelm me. Breath, Soph.

"She’s yours. No pussy’s worth that much," the other man bites out, shifting in his seat.

My lungs fill with oxygen as I pull in a much needed breath, filling my chest cavity.

"Our final object up for auction has been sold. Gentlemen, thank you for your participation tonight. If you would kindly make your way to the lounge area through the rear door to finalize payments and collect your earlier purchases. Drinks are available and some in-house entertainment if you’re in the mood."

The announcer’s voice buzzes in my head.

I’ve been sold.

Men rise from their chairs and I hear footsteps retreat as they exit the room. A door closes in the distance, leaving just my new master and me alone in the silent room.

I want to step down off the humiliating stage I’ve been made to stand on. I want my clothes. But I remain rooted in place, realizing for the first time that my actions are no longer my own.

"Come forward," he commands.

I swallow and step down off the platform, my legs heavy from remaining in one spot for so long. I take slow strides across the room like I’m approaching a dangerous animal. Maybe I am. What kind of man buys a woman?

"I won’t hurt you," he encourages and I take another tentative step closer, stopping directly in front of his chair. "Lights," he says to no one in particular and the overhead lights all flick on at once. Blinking several times against the sudden rush of light, my eyes remain downcast as they struggle to adjust.

Disoriented, I continue looking down, studying his shoes, which are now both resting squarely on the floor. "Look at me," he says.

I lift my chin and take in the man seated before me. Black suit. White crisp shirt. Thin black tie knotted loosely at his neck.

I inhale again, forcing another breath into my lungs and finally look into the eyes of the man who has just spent one million dollars to purchase me. Sky blue eyes fringed in heavy black lashes stare back at me, stealing the breath from my lungs. He is stunning. Tall, fit, and attractive. Confusion washes over me. What is a man like this doing here? He could walk into any bar in America and pick up a girl easily enough. My stomach twists in recognition. That can only mean that his tastes are peculiar enough that he requires complete obedience. He’ll want things no normal girl would do. Oh god, I feel like I’m going to pass out. I can’t let this attractive monster lure me in.

"Just breathe," he says, calming my fears.

I obey like a good little slave, opening my mouth and sucking in air greedily.

"That’s it," he says soothingly, his own posture relaxing just slightly. "What should I call you?"

It’s an interesting way to phrase the question. He didn’t ask me for my name. Maybe he’s assuming I’ll give him a fake identity. And I probably would have if I’d been thinking clearly. Instead I whisper, "Sophie." As soon as it’s off my lips, I momentarily regret giving him my real name. But then I realize I’ll be living with him for six months and I don’t think I can keep up with the lie of a fake identity that entire time. I’ll already be lying to my family and friends about where I am. No sense making this even more difficult on myself.

He tilts his head to the side, continuing to study me. "Call me Drake," he says finally. I wonder if Drake is his real name.

Just when I’m beginning to think he’s going to make me stand here all night, he rises from the chair. Having his full height in front of me is daunting. I’m average height, and he’s at least a foot taller than me, well over six feet. I stagger back a step.