Chapter 3

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"Where you from?" Camille asks, bringing me from my perusal of the island.

"Miami, Florida," I say.

"I'm from Denmark," she tells me, and it only just now occurs to me that she has an accent.

"How did you end up here?" I ask.

"I don't know. I was in Berlin hopping hostels and partying. Met these guys. Got drunk. Woke up here." She nods. "You?"

I take a second to piece together the details. "I went for a job interview. My sister was with me. It was at this big mansion owned by Mr. Vasquez. I was interviewing for a live in maid position." It was going to be great. A nice place for me and Lena to live. A good new school for her... wait, is Vasquez behind all this?

"What about your family?" she asks. "Your parents? Surely they know you're missing by now."

I shake my head. "It's only me and Lena." Mom left way back when Lena was just a tiny girl. Dad died two years ago, putting me at nineteen in charge of raising a pre-teen. "What about you?" I ask.

She gives a harsh laugh. "I got nobody. Been a system kid pretty much my whole life."

I look around at the other young women in the cart. Are they the same? No family? Does no one know they're missing either?

The cart turns right and clumps down a stone-laid driveway. A multi-level villa comes into view with outbuildings attached. A soldier sees us coming and opens the gate. We enter a circular outdoor area that I'd say is about fifty feet in diameter.

Other women and men dressed like us in short brown tunics are busy training with wooden swords and kicking and punching posts. I count fourteen in all. Four women and ten men. All with either shaved heads or very short hair. They collectively stop when they see the cart come to a stop.

The fierce bald man climbs down, circles around, and unlatches the door. "Out," he says in an accent I can't quite place. It's the first time I've heard him speak.

He unlocks our shackles as we climb down and indicates we should line up for whatever's next. Of the twenty or so girls in our original holding cell, only six were brought here.

The cart pulls away, the gate to the outbuilding bolts shut, and we stand confronted with the other men and women captives. They begin walking up and down our line.

One of them pokes a woman standing two down from me. "Look at this one all scared."

"This one's fat," another taunts.

"And this one smells," yet another sneers.

What are they doing? They're one of us. We're one of them. Aren't we?

An enormous black woman stops right in front of me. "What was Dominus thinking getting this one?"

I narrow my eyes.

She throws her head back and laughs.

I stare up at the roof of her mouth, her white teeth, her dry lips, and something just snaps. I shove her in the chest, she stumbles back, but doesn't waste a second coming right at me.

I crouch down, ready. My father always warned me my temper would be my downfall. She goes to shove me, and I back flip away and come up with a smirk that makes her full on charge.

"Enough!" The fierce bald man barks, and the big black woman immediately halts.

She scowls at me. "This isn't over."

"Whenever," I challenge, and she snarls.

"Greetings!" someone shouts, and I glance up to see the short skinny man who bought us at the marketplace standing on a terrace overlooking the training area. Beside him is a gorgeous dark-haired lady and behind them two young girls.

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