By: Tara Crescent

Then the shooting begins.

When I stop screaming, a man walks into the room, his eyes wary and his grip tight on his gun. He is wearing a black t-shirt and black pants. He looks at me briefly before dismissing me as a threat and leaving the room. I can hear him search the house. When he is done, he comes back to where I’m still sitting, curled up into a tight, fearful ball. “You are Dylan’s latest girl, are you not?”

I nod.

He shrugs, more or less indifferent to my plight. “Where is Dylan?”

“Abeokuta,” I reply. “In his compound, I’d imagine.”

The man swears a string of colourful curses. Though there is still a tense knot of fear in me, I watch him curiously.

“Damn it,” he says finally. He runs his hands through his hair. “I’d hoped he would be here with you.” He exhales and is silent for many minutes. When he finally breaks the silence, his words are stoic though his eyes remain bleak. “Ah well,” he says. “There’s always next time, right?”

He turns to leave. I seize my courage into my hands, and call out. “Wait.” He gives me a look of barely concealed impatience. “You want to kill Dylan, don’t you? I do too. Take me with you.”

His eyes rake my body and I can imagine what he sees. A beautiful woman no doubt, but otherwise completely useless. My muscles are weak. I huddle in terror when the shooting starts. “You have nothing to offer,” he dismisses me. “No. You will not be useful.”

“I’ve been Dylan McAllister’s sex slave for two years,” I snap back. The dismissal stings. It only reinforces what I already know. I’m deadweight. But I’m not going to back down. I will have my revenge. “I know things about him that will help you in your quest.”

“Like what?” he scoffs.

I recite things. The blessing of a photographic memory. Precise descriptions of each of Dylan’s five bodyguards. Details about the Nigerian mercenaries that Gregor Petrovich has hired to supplement the security in the compound. I paint vivid word portraits of the housekeeping staff. I talk about security rosters. At what hour of the day the guards change. I remember everything and I tell it all to this stranger dressed in black.

When I’m done, there’s a moment of silence. Then the man speaks again. “It appears that I have underestimated you,” he says. “What do you want?”

“I want to kill Dylan McAllister.”

“Get in line,” he quips, before he turns serious. “Killing is hard and soul-destroying work. Do you have what it takes?”

I remember everything. Every unwelcome touch. Every biting kiss of the whip. Every painful penetration. Every single time I’ve been tossed to Dylan’s bodyguards as punishment.

“Yes.” My voice is flat. I do have what it takes.


The life of my imaginary twin sister did not depend on this auction. But my revenge did.

There had been a spate of killings in the human trafficking world. Lucien and I did our share, but our target was always Dylan McAllister and his henchmen. We didn’t take on the entire shady underworld. We just didn’t have the resources.

But people had been dying. Two years ago I had killed Ivan Klimov in Paris. Ivan had been guarding Stanislav Durov, the man who controlled the pipeline transporting women from Azerbaijan and Georgia to Moscow. But the next day, I’d learned that a few hours after I’d killed Ivan, Stanislav Durov himself had been assassinated. Someone took advantage of the confusion I’d created when I’d killed Ivan to go after the bigger fish.

Everyone was afraid. Everyone had doubled and tripled their guards and were on high alert. And sadly for us, Dylan McAllister had moved from Abeokuta, where we might have had a chance at getting him, to a completely impenetrable fortress-like compound on the outskirts of Hanoi.

There was only one way in. Three times a year Dylan McAllister was visited by a man. Alexander Hamilton. Lucien had tried to gather intelligence on Alexander but had come up with absolutely nothing. We didn’t have a photo of him. We had no idea what he did or why he visited Dylan. We’d heard that he was Dylan’s finance guy – the one responsible for keeping him firmly entrenched among the ranks of the world’s billionaires so that Dylan could kidnap women with impunity, and surround himself with bodyguards to safeguard him from his crimes. But it was just speculation. We had no idea.

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