By: Tara Crescent

“So I thought I’d try the actual fantasy,” she continued. “Three months. I don’t have to worry about how this will work long-term, because it isn’t long-term. But it’s still long enough to be real. Now though, I’m worried that I’ll end up with a jerk.”

Susan shook her head. “Don’t be,” she said. “Madame Lorraine’s auction house is the best in the business. Every single person has been carefully vetted. This is my third time and I’ve never heard of anyone having a bad experience. It’s safe-word friendly, consensual slavery.” She had a soft, faraway look in her eyes. “It’s amazing.”

Behind her, Sarit was nodding her head. “Very safe,” she echoed, as she tended to the redhead’s hair, expertly bundling it in some kind of chignon with strands of hair curling around her face. I watched her work, her hands quick and sure, as she transformed the way the girl in front of her looked. Elena was already beautiful, with her red hair and her pale skin and her sea-blue eyes, but when Sarit was done with her hair, she looked even more spectacular.

“What’s your story?” I asked Susan. “Third time, you said? What keeps you coming back?”

“I like sex,” Susan replied frankly. “And I like to serve. I like to surrender to my Master’s will.” She sighed. “But apart from that? There’s one guy who comes to these things that I’m hoping will bid on me.”

“Who?” Elena asked curiously. She’d leaned forward in her chair.

Susan sighed again for dramatic effect. “His name is Alexander,” she said. “He’s dreamy. I’ve seen him both times I’ve been here, but I guess I’m not his type.” She looked ruefully at her blonde hair which hung in lustrous, touchable waves down her back. “He seems to go for the frail brunettes. Like Jenny.”

That’s precisely why I’m a brunette, I thought. That’s why I’ve been starving myself for twelve weeks. To try and look more waif-like, so that Alexander would bid on me.

Susan continued talking. She didn’t mention Alexander again and I didn’t ask. I didn’t want to arouse any suspicion. I tried to ask her what the auction itself was like but she refused to tell me. “It should be a surprise,” she grinned. “I will tell you you’ll get a chance to talk to every Master or Mistress who wishes to bid on you and you can reject anyone you don’t get a good sense from.”

“Does that happen very often?” I asked.

Susan shrugged. “Not terribly often, but it does happen,” she replied. “Mostly, it tends to be around silly things. Some women want only young Masters, some women only want older Masters, some women only want a Mistress, that kind of thing. Things you should have already indicated on your check-list but didn’t. But,” she looked at both of us, very seriously, “if you get a bad vibe from anyone, you should trust your instincts. Always.”

Elena nodded. “I know,” she assured us. “Same warnings as in the clubs. Better safe than sorry.”

I kept silent until Susan fixed me with a curious look. “What’s your story, Jenny? Why did you decide to do this?”

“My sister has leukemia,” I lied. “I need the money.”

Elena turned to me with an expression of sympathy but Susan looked troubled. “Umm, Jenny, does Madame Lorraine know this?” she asked.

“Of course,” I responded. “Why?”

“Because money impacts consent,” Susan replied. “If you are desperate for the money, are you really likely to use your safe words when you need to?”

Susan was wise and perceptive. Money did impact consent. As did a thirst for revenge. I knew that if Alexander won me, no matter what he wanted to do with me, I would allow it. I wouldn’t use my safe word. I wouldn’t say no. I would be the best slave-girl it was possible to be. I would do whatever it took to get him to take me to Hanoi with him. Hanoi, where Dylan McAllister lived in an impenetrable compound that we had tried to infiltrate three times in the last year and a half.

I would do whatever Alexander wanted. I would do it willingly and obediently. Because this was only three months and I could endure it. I had endured so much more.

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