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Saffron

"Sofie's very obedient. That's what we call her. Sofie," Dad tells the Pissed Off Wolf. "Does what you tell her to. Never disobeys." He ruffles my hair, the action more rough than affectionate. "Her wolf is fully submissive, an Omega if ever there was one." He pulls me into his side.

Even though I'm no Omega—and Dad knows it—I keep my mouth shut. Now is really not the time to stand up for myself.

"Sofie can cook, clean, hunt, and she got a good head on her shoulders," Dad continues. "Worth her weight in gold, this one." Usually, I'm the useless screw-up, so you can't blame me for being shocked that Dad is suddenly singing a different tune.

POW doesn't seem to like what he's hearing either, or maybe he's just fed up with listening. He's actually getting more pissed off by the second, which doesn't even seem possible. His entire body is shaking, as if it takes considerable effort for him not to go in for the kill.

"Is she now?" he growls and gives me the once-over. I shudder and draw my arms closer to my sides, trying to look smaller, more submissive. The wolf equivalent of "please don't hurt me, I'll do whatever you say."

"She's worth much more than ten grand, so you're actually getting yourself a real bargain," Dad adds, and my eyes widen. Ten thousand dollars? How in the hell did he manage to get himself into that kind of debt?

I look between Dad and POW and some of what's happening starts to make sense. Dad got himself into a mess and now he wants me to clean it up. He mentioned cooking, cleaning, and hunting, and it's not like he ever does any of those himself. Ten grand, though? How long would I have to work for POW to settle that kind of debt? Months? Years?

I'm pretty good at math, so I try to work it all out in my head. I get paid minimum wage at the diner, and I doubt POW would pay me any more than that. So I'd have to work around one thousand hours, and if I put in twenty hours a week, that would be... crap, I have no idea. I can't count on the spot like this! Not with POW growling at me and ready to strike. All I know is that it will take a long time. A whole year? Maybe longer? I mean, ten thousand dollars! Plus, what would happen to my job at the diner? I can't do both! Will Dad make me quit school? Is he allowed to do that?

"What would I want her for?" POW asks, raising an eyebrow.

"Housekeeper? Slave? She doesn't care," Dad responds. "She'll do whatever you tell her to. She's a hard worker, so she'll earn her keep, and then some." POW says nothing, and Dad sighs. "Look, I could probably sell her for much more than that if I went looking for a buyer."

I gasp as the shock of what Dad is saying begins to sink in. He doesn't want me to work for POW. He wants to sell me to POW! Sell me! Like I'm a piece of property. Is that even legal? Maybe this is all just a bad dream. Any second now, I'll snap out of it and realize I fell asleep doing homework. I pinch my hand, desperate to wake up, but the nightmare only keeps getting worse.

"Just give me a couple of days and I'll get you your money." Dad laughs. "How hard is it to sell a teenage girl? She's a virgin too, you know. Or I think she is?" Dad gives me a questioning look, but I just stand there, horrified. This can't be happening!

"If I take her," POW growls, "you will have no say in what I do with her. You will never see your daughter again. You'll never speak to her, write to her, or have any contact with her! Is that understood?" POW takes a step toward us and Dad tightens his hold around my shoulder.

"Of course." He nods, the scent of triumph replacing the hope and worry that I smelled on him earlier. "She's all yours."

"Very well." POW growls. "I will forgive your debt."

"I knew you'd see things my way." Dad smirks and I shudder.

This is not happening. Dad did not just sell me to someone! Is this a joke? Did he get one of his buddies to play along so he could have a few laughs at my expense? I wouldn't put it past him, but POW looks pretty serious and somehow I can't see him as one of Dad's beer-drinking, card-playing friends.

I know Dad doesn't like me, but he's still my dad! I never imagined he would do something so despicable. I thought that if I could stand him until I finished high school, I'd get out of here, away from this run-down house and this awful small town. If I'd known Dad was going to sell me and make me someone's slave, I would have run away years ago!

Suddenly, I just want to get as far away from this nightmare as possible. I need to shift, to escape... to run and never stop. I try to pull away from Dad, but he's holding onto me with an iron grip. I fight against him and almost break free, but POW grabs my other shoulder. His grip isn't painful, but it's strong and he has no trouble holding me in place.

"Saffron," POW spits out and I hate the way he makes the beautiful name my mom gave me sound. "If you try to run, I will track you down and it won't be pretty. For you or your father." POW growls and I freeze, his menacing glare making me tremble. His arm is still on me, and I shudder in disgust.

"You will go upstairs and pack your things," POW orders and lets go of me. Dad does too, and it takes everything I have to force myself not to make a run for it. "If you try to leave, I will hear you. If you try to escape, I will punish you. Do you understand?"

I don't respond. It's all too much. Dad just sold me to a violent, scary, Pissed Off Wolf. I can only hope that I'm going to be a housekeeper and not something disgusting, like a sex slave. He may not be bad looking for an old guy, but still. Gross!

I can't handle this. I just can't. I start to shake my head, but then POW shouts the order, "Do what you're told. Now!" His voice is laced with authority and instinct propels me up the stairs to my bedroom. I pick up my duffel bag on autopilot and begin to pack up my stuff before I have time to process what's happening.

Dad's told me that Alphas, and sometimes Betas, can have this sort of power over Wolves; that it can be hard, or even impossible, to disobey them. I just never believed him, because it sounded so far fetched. I figured he was exaggerating, or maybe just making the whole thing up to mess with me. I still practiced the techniques he taught me to help resist an Alpha's order, but if I'd know this was for real, I would have taken the training a lot more seriously.

I take deep breaths and clear my mind the way Dad taught me, and the effect of POW's order start to dissipate. Suddenly, I have an overwhelming urge to climb out the window and run. I'm fast, both in wolf and human form, after all the practice I've had running from Dad. The man may be in horrible shape, but his wolf is lean and strong. It's weird how that works, but we have to exercise in both forms if we want to stay in shape.

Still, Dad and I are rogues, so we're much weaker than other Wolves. That's why no pack has ever wanted us. Even if I can outrun Dad, I'm probably a snail compared to POW. Plus, he's expecting me to run, so he's ready to give chase. Once he catches me, he might kill me on the spot, beat the crap out of me, torture me, or worse. Like he warned me, it won't be pretty.

If I'm going to escape, I need to bide my time. If I act weak and obedient, POW will lower his guard. Then, when the time is right, I will make a run for it. I just hope it won't be too late.

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