Read 24690 Online

Authors: A. A. Dark,Alaska Angelini

24690 (4 page)

Chapter 6



Greed and jealousy had the power to do things to a man that even torture couldn’t touch. The two were a pain mechanism all on their own. They may not have injured the body, but what they did do was destroy and corrupt the soul.

My soul had been picked apart long ago. When all of your life you’re compared to someone you know you’ll never be as handsome as, or as rich or powerful as, the constant envy and hate take its toll.

I hated Bram Whitlock. He was everything I wanted to be. Even if I could have been half the man he portrayed, I would have been happy. But that wasn’t the case. I wasn’t born into a rich family. I wasn’t handed everything I wanted. Not in the sense he was. My father worked for his as the high leader. My mother, an absent drug addict who I hadn’t seen since I was four, while his mother was the world’s biggest socialite. I used to play at their extravagant mansion in my youth. It led Bram’s father to take notice of how me and his son got along. From there, I was sent to the same schools as Bram.

Where I excelled, Bram outshined me. Sports, academics, girls. He was always better in everything he tried his hand at. And he never cared for any of it. Not even the girls. What pleased him the most was proving he was the best. Then he was done.

But now I was going to have something he only wished for. Twenty-four-six-ninety was going to be mine. He loved her. The longing in his eyes while he hid behind that screen couldn’t conceal that. It was desperate and pathetic. Bram had never paid so much attention to a woman before. This one, this Everleigh, was different. Even for me. It was as if I could feel their connection. His yearning became my own. It corrupted me, warping my malicious mind. But even there, he and I were similar. Neither of us were good men. He just didn’t know it. To him, I was the good one. But there was no honor when I thought of the two of them together, or even her.

It all started with him leaving up her apartment on his screen. At first, I hadn’t paid attention to the old man walking around, but then there she was … beautiful, angelic even. Bram exploded when I asked about her. He didn’t want to talk about it, and that was enough to more than pique my interest. He wanted her, and that made me want her more. Then, a few weeks after he took his role as Master of Whitlock, the visits came. Numerous times we’d go by their apartment. It never escaped me how their eyes always found each other. And his reasons for needing to visit Master Vicolette were bullshit. It was her. It was always her.

Knock. Knock.

My fist connected a third time against the metal door and Bram opened it, his eyes still heavy with sleep.

“Got your coffee. Black with sugar, just the way you like it.”

He paused, swinging the door open and taking the Styrofoam cup. “Thanks. What time is it?”

I walked in, taking notice of the blanket on the couch. The bastard never slept in a bed. Give him a couch or chair and he’d make due. Hell, even the floor. I never understood it with the money and luxuries he forever had at his disposal.

“It’s a little after six. I take it you didn’t get much sleep last night?”

“Slept fine.”

He took a sip of the coffee, putting it down to head to the restroom. I waited for the door to close before I walked to his computer. One tap of the mouse and a cell came into view. Two women were sleeping on the small beds that lined each side of the room. From the dark hair, I knew which one was Everleigh, but the length was gone. Her hair, it was no longer than a few inches. If she was lucky it would come to her shoulders, but I doubted it. The sight made me curse under my breath. The routine was one I’d seen throughout my time here, but I hated that it had to be done to her. My fantasies of seeing her long hair draped around her nude body were gone.

Water turned on in the distance and I refrained from touching anything so the screen could black out again. Within minutes, Bram was walking back out, dressed in a suit that cost more than my monthly salary. And me, I was doing what I always did—waiting for his direction.

“You’ll take the chopper to the office today and make an appearance.”

“I went last time. You’re not going?”

Bram picked up the coffee, casting me with a glance as he headed for the computer.

“No. I have stuff to take care of here. You have it under control. I trust if there’s anything that needs to be done, you’ll handle it.”

I breathed through the anger. He didn’t have anything to do here. He just wanted to watch her, like he always did.

“Of course. Is there anything you need while I’m gone?”

Bram sat, glancing up at me as his focus went between me and the screen. “No.” He paused. “Actually, yes. There’s a doctor in Medical. I think she’s new. Dr. Cortez, I believe she goes by. Find out who she is. I don’t remember approving her admittance here.”

A smile tugged at my lips. “Because you didn’t. I did.” At his stare, I came closer. “It was a few months back. You asked me to go over the list and see who we needed for staff. She’s a surgeon. I had her taken from Baltimore. Her record is outstanding but not so much as to bring notice. She didn’t have much family or friends. It was an easy … kidnapping.”

Bram nodded, going back to the monitor. “She gave slave twenty-four-six-ninety something last night. Some sort of weapon is my guess. I was half tempted to have it removed, but I don’t think I will. The slave believes the guards will disobey my orders and try to get back at her for my punishment over one of their own. Let her see she has nothing to worry over. As for the doctor, I will leave it to you to punish her. This
your doing. She obviously hasn’t been taught the ways of our world. I think if you’re going to become part of it, even more, it’s time you took these sort of matters into your own hands.”

The challenging look was one meant to show me up. Little did Bram know, I wasn’t as good as he thought me to be. Truth was, he had no idea the man who rested inside.

“Done. I’ll go see her now.”

“Do that. Make it clear to her that she’s not to be encouraging these slaves. And in no way is she to give them weapons to hurt my guards.”

“It won’t happen again. You have my word.” I bowed my head, turning and heading to the door. With how early it was, I doubted she was in Medical, but the staff had residence not far from there. And I knew where she resided. I’d seen to the placement of her quarters, myself.

I shut the door, going in the direction of the long curved hall not far away. The guard stood erect, staring at the wall before him as I passed through the entrance. I was someone here. Someone they respected. Someone they were cautious over, which was good. They needed to fear me more than they knew. The ones I had on my side were a loyal few, but I knew to be careful.

After a good hundred feet, the hall intersected, and I turned going down even further. When I passed the next guard, I paused, looking over his face. He was young. Maybe mid-twenties. He’d want to prove himself. They always did.

“I have orders from Mr. Whitlock. We have a situation and I need you to follow me. Call your high leader and have him send a replacement for you.”

“Yes, Master.”

“I’m no master. Not yet. Sir will work just fine.”

“Yes, Sir.”

The guard radioed in and I waited. Within minutes, three men in black uniforms approached. Although I wanted to smile, I held in the reaction to the power I felt.

“You stay,” I said, pointing to a shorter man just as young as the first. “You three follow me. We have a doctor who thinks it’s okay to pass weapons to slaves. Mr. Whitlock wants her dealt with accordingly.” I glanced back, taking in the way their hard faces stared ahead. When we turned again and approached the door, I gestured. “Open it.”

The thicker of the two took lead, not even pausing as he grabbed the knob. When it didn’t turn in his hand, he brought his foot up letting it shoot forward. Wood cracked from the frame and he threw his weight into the barrier, sending the door flying open. The guards rushed through and I let them take over as I followed.

“Doctor Cortez,” I said, loudly, walking straight to her room. Lights were already flooding the small space and dark hair was wild around her as she sat in the middle of the bed. Back and forth she went, staring at the guns trained on her. When she met me with panicked eyes, I lifted my hands for the guards to lower their weapons.

“What’s happening?”

“Something you’re probably not going to like. You were witnessed giving something to a slave who was under your care. A weapon. Do you deny it?”

The fear increased as she took in the men. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“No? Perhaps I should remind you. Men,” I turned, showing them my rage. “I’m sure you’re all aware of what happened last night. Remind Dr. Cortez what slave twenty-four-six-ninety was brought into Medical for.”

There was no hesitation, no pause, as the bigger guard brought back his fist and slammed it into the doctor’s face, repeatedly. Screaming filled the space as she tried to fight him off, but there was no use. Even slightly taller for a female, she was no match for the large guard. Fabric tore and I placed my hands behind my back as I let all three men rip off the white slip she wore. The cries grew louder as one flipped her onto her stomach and jerked at his pants.

“To help slaves is strictly forbidden. I do believe you were given this talk when you were brought here. Yet, you provided one with a weapon to harm the same people who allow you to live. Do you think yourself irreplaceable, Dr. Cortez?”

Sobbing wracked her body as she clawed and yelled into the blankets. She wasn’t fighting her attackers or the rape she was beginning to undergo.

“I asked you a question.”


“No is correct. You are very replaceable. I thought you’d be a good fit, but I see I was wrong. You have a softness that I don’t have time to squash. You’ll join the people you pity. Welcome to your new life, slave.” I looked back at the guards. “When you’re finished, throw her in Slave Row. If she gives you any trouble, kill her.”

I didn’t wait for their response. I turned my back, leaving the small room. My whistling filled the silent halls and I let a smile come. Today was going to be a great day. Once I returned, I would visit my slave. Let someone try to stop me.

Chapter 7



“I want to go home. I want to go home.”

The mantra filled the cells for hours and there was no stopping it. The words could have come from my own mouth, but they weren’t. They were coming from the girl who shared a room with me. Over and over, she cried and begged.

“I’ve told you, this is your home now.”

“No,” she sobbed. “I want to go

“The sooner you accept that you have no home anymore, the easier this will become. Trust me, you’re only making this harder on yourself.”

Bloodshot green eyes stared at me as I paced. The redhead’s lip quivered and her balled fist rose to her mouth. The desperate sound that came out had me slowing. “They put something inside of me. T-they did something to my insides. I hurt.”

I frowned. I knew what she was referring to. My Master talked about the changes plenty when they’d discovered the new ways. “It’s a type of hysterectomy. They do it to all of us. No periods, and no pregnancy. You’re lucky, and you’ll be thanking the heavens for what they’ve done when you get your master. Besides, your procedure is new. I have the scar on my stomach to show what I went through. You got it the easy way.”

“Hysterectomy? But …
I’m only eighteen!
If I get out of here, I won’t be able to—”

“You’re not leaving,” I stressed. “It’s impossible. I’ve been here for fourteen years. If there was a way, do you not think I would have found it?”

The crying grew louder and I closed my lids, trying to calm. I had no right treating her so coldly. Truth was, I was on edge. The louder she cried, the more attention she was drawing from the guards.

I walked over, sitting on the edge of her bed. Her short red hair was chin length, just as mine. She wasn’t beautiful, but her dark green eyes made up for her commonly face. They were speckled with yellow, capturing attention, which might not be a good thing.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered. “I know you’re scared. So am I. But I’ve been through this before. I know things.”

The sobs died out as her attention focused. “What sort of things?”

I paused. “What’s your name?”


“No,” I said, shaking my head. “Your new name. It’s a number.” I pulled down the white shirt I wore, exposing my cleavage. The tattoo was small, but couldn’t be mistaken. Her lip trembled as she tugged at the collar of her own shirt.

“Twenty-six-nine-seventy-five. That is your new name.”

She sobbed, wiping back the tears as she let go of the shirt.

“You’re not a virgin, are you?”

Her head did a quick shake. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“It has to do with
. We’re slaves of anything our Masters want. Anything. And you’re in the same predicament as I am.”

“What do you mean? Masters? Who are these men?”

“They’re the rich, the famous. The ones who can afford to buy us.”

Something flashed over her face. Something I couldn’t understand. She didn’t seem so afraid suddenly. She seemed intrigued.

“Our prices will be lower than most of the girls. That’s not good, but it doesn’t have to be bad. There are men here who are just looking for sex. For a woman to do things that maybe they can’t find out there. My best advice is to catch the attention of an older man. The older, the better. In my experience, they can be gentler.”

“Old?” Repulsion swept over her face. “If I’m going to be bought, I don’t want some

“You don’t understand. Most men here are cruel. They do things to the girls that you can’t even imagine. Yes, some of the older ones do those sort of things too, but in my experience, it’s the younger ones who are more … out for blood. With the money they have, they aren’t incapable of finding a woman on the outside world. What they want here is what they can’t legally have out there. Do you understand?
They want to hurt you


Again, fear. Good.

“Some men will pay a lot of money just to slice open your skin. To
you. Do you want a younger man who enjoys death, or an older, nicer one who may beat you on occasion, but takes great care of you?”

At her silence, I rolled my eyes.

“I’m trying to help you. I don’t want anything bad to happen to you because you don’t know what to expect. This isn’t a game. You’re not going to wake up one day and have men bursting through the door to rescue you. No one is coming.”

I stood to start pacing again, freezing as my eyes met with a pair from one of the guards. He was staring through the small window in the door. Up and down he traveled over my body. I couldn’t help but jump when a hand grasped mine.

“Who is that?”

“Just a guard,” I said, quietly. “Don’t look at him.”

I turned, facing her as I stole another glance. He was still there. Still watching.

“They’ll be here for me. Not you. Don’t be afraid. They’ll know you’re still healing. They’re forbidden to touch you until … after.”

“Touch me?”

I took a deep breath, stealing another look. He was gone, replaced with someone else. Someone who left me shaking even more.


“Who’s that?”

The interest in her tone had me wanting to shake her. She was so naïve. So unaware of how this place worked or how the people who resided here acted. A handsome face only meant one thing at Whitlock—pain, and possible death. The better looking, the more dangerous they were.

“That’s Mr. Whitlock. This fortress belongs to him.”

The door opened and I took a deep breath as he stepped in. The way his stare was narrowed, the guilt left me swallowing.
He knew.

“A vast improvement, but not enough. Maybe I should have them cut your hair a little shorter.”

My hand lifted on instinct, but only mid-way. I quickly dropped it back to my side. “If it pleases you, Master.”

“Pleases me? Pleases me?” He laughed, angrily. “You have no idea what would please me right now.”

I stayed quiet as he began to circle around me.

“When I discovered your Master was dead, I knew you were going to stir up trouble. I have to say, though, I wasn’t prepared for how much. Do you know how many Masters have come to me this morning inquiring about you?”

My stomach dropped. “No, Mr. Whitlock.”

“Three,” he growled. “Your master’s body hasn’t even been disposed of and they’re already coming. I suspected a few might, but Master Kain … he I didn’t expect. Do you know how much he offered me for you?”

Fear left me spinning and flying to Mr. Whitlock’s feet. “Don’t let him have me. Anyone but him or Master Pollock.”

“Eight million, slave. Eight. I get that much for virgins. But you are not pure. You’re not even that beautiful. I had to ask myself, why would he want you at such a price? Before I could come to an answer, a friend of your master’s arrived. Master Yahn.”

The rich banker was one I had heard extensively about over the years. The talks about his money would go on and on for hours. Not to mention he was one of the main masters …

“He is kind from what I know,” I managed.

“Twelve million is what he offered for you when I said no. And he knows more than anyone than to push me. Yet, he did for you.” Pain stung over my scalp as Mr. Whitlock jerked my head back to look at him. “And do you know who has to match that price. Me! You are not worth twelve million.”

Tears raced down my cheeks as he gripped even tighter. “If you think what they offer now is high, wait until auction night. You may break records. What I want to know is why? What did you do while you were under your master’s care? Did you lead them on? Did you
them behind your master’s back? Why you?”

“I don’t know, I swear. I did nothing.” And I hadn’t. I stayed as inconspicuous as possible. “You said you would have to match them. Why?”

He let go, staring down at me with more hate than I ever saw from anyone.

“You don’t worry about that. Nothing is marked in stone, and your future here becomes more aggravating by the day. Men,
the doctor
… I may have you killed and spare everyone the grief you bring us.”

My face shot to the ground as nausea beckoned.
He did know.
I could go to the White Room if he chose to send me.

“That’s right, hide yourself, little mouse. Retreat back to the submissive shell you are. I should put you over my knee and beat your ass black and blue. You drive me mad.”

To glare up like I wanted would no doubt land me a beating I couldn’t afford.
Little mouse.
My breathing turned heavy while I instead let my short hair cover my angry expression.


Slowly, I rose. I kept my focus a few feet ahead, seeing nothing. Feeling nothing but the deadening of the fury I’d held only moments ago. It wasn’t safe to embrace such emotions. The more I let them fester, the braver I became.

“If you could pick one master out of everyone you know, who would it be?”

I did look up, then. “Will my choice matter?”

“No. I asked you a question. I want it answered. Who?”

I knew no one good enough to stake my future with. Anyone could act kind to me or my old master’s face. Behind these walls, that’s where their true secrets came out. And there were things darker than someone taking a blade to another’s skin. The things I had heard gave me nightmares. Dreams so vivid and disturbing, I could almost feel my meat being cut from my bones in small increments over time.

“I don’t know. Master Yahn, perhaps?”

“That old bastard? Why?”

“He’s not that old,” I braved.

Mr. Whitlock moved more from my side to come stand before me. “He’s damn near sixty.”

“He’s probably safe,” I whispered.

“He is not,” Bram said, leaning in only inches from my face. “He’s had one slave throughout his twenty years here. Have you ever seen her?”

My head shook. “No.”

“Nor will you. She’s mummified, lying on his bed. Beaten to death after one of his episodes. He sleeps with her every night. Kisses her good morning, and sings to her when he thinks no one is watching.”

Horror had my stare rising to his.

“You are safe with no one you’ll be sold to. No one, slave. So I ask you again, which master would you choose?”

“Mr. Harper was interested.” I swallowed hard, knowing he was the last person I should bring attention too. I wanted him the most, but Bram shouldn’t know that. “Should I fear him?”

“You fear everyone. Have you not learned that? We all have secrets. His may be the darkest of them all.”

“Really? How do you think?”

,” he growled. “You asked too many damn questions.”

“Then … I choose you.”


“You said there was a price for helping me. Pay it. Make me yours if you’re going to take me whenever you want anyway. There’s no use selling me if that’s your plan.”

“I will
make you my slave.”

“You said I brought grief. If you sell me and then come to me, my Master
find out. Imagine the chaos that’s going to cause. He’ll kill me. If that’s what you want, take that scalpel from under my pillow and end this now. I don’t wish to die at the hands of a mad man murderous with jealous rage.”

Bram’s finger slid along my cheek, tucking a piece of hair behind my ear. The act was opposite of the reactions he displayed at my proposition.

“To die from jealous rage.” He laughed under his breath. “I’m afraid either way you may not have a choice.”


Other books

The City of the Sun by Stableford, Brian
Island in a Sea of Stars by Kevin J. Anderson
Appassionata by Jilly Cooper
Coolidge by Amity Shlaes
Queen of Hearts by Jami Denise
La Calavera de Cristal by Manda Scott
PROLOGUE by lp,l