Thalia's POV

I'd shoved Darren when he tried to come near me. The girls in the room were silent as they watched me burst into tears while Darren spluttered his endless apologies. I stood in a corner of the room, sobbing as he spoke. He was the last person I wanted to see right now and I'd told him to get out of the room but he'd refused. I didn't push him anymore because I didn't want to create a scene.

Apparently, he was one of the men assigned by Richard to search for me. Darren volunteered to patrol the area I was living in so the other men wouldn't find me. None of them was aware that he knew me personally. He also explained that he got into this business just before he left town. And the reason he left was because he was hand-picked by Richard to meet with the chiefs of other towns and promote their 'services'.

Darren was probably chosen to do this because of his proficient social skills, intangible charm and wit. He hadn't been in college all this time. He'd been working for these people. He added that he knew all of this was wrong, snatching young girls off the street to sell them off, but was swayed by the money they offered him. He said he attempted to leave multiple times but it only got more difficult each time he tried. 'Once you're in, you can never get out', he told me.

Then he swore that he didn't tell Richard about me, that he didn't even know I was taken by them until he got the call from my mother, begging him for help. "I don't want to lose what we have, Lia. You mean everything to me. You're all I have." He said.

Any explanation he was giving me didn't matter right now, I didn't want to hear it. All I knew was that he was one of them, and that made me sick to the core. I didn't know what I was going to do with him and I didn't want to think about it. My head was pounding and I felt so ill. It felt as if everything was falling apart.

"Thalia, please say something." Darren said, my silence seeming to render him anxious.

"Maybe you should go, Darren." The short brunette advised in a small voice as the other girls remained quiet, probably overwhelmed by what they had just heard.

"Keep quiet." Darren shushed her frustratedly before looking to me for a response.

I didn't have anything to say, I couldn't even think straight. Some of the drugs they'd given me to knock me unconscious were probably still coursing through my system, as I was drowsy and strived to collect my thoughts.

The door opened once more, this time to reveal a middle-aged woman clad in a short Victorian-style dress. Her grey streaked hair was worn up in a conical shape, like a bee hive and her collarbones were unhealthily protruding. "What is this?" She gasped. "Why is she crying?"

"Personal reasons, Madam." Darren answered.

"I can't have crying girls here. We're about to start our class." She entered and dropped her handbag to the floor. "You need to leave, boy."

"Just a moment-"

"Get the fuck out." Her voice changed drastically, as did her demeanour. She tugged at Darren's arm, directing him towards the door.

"Thalia, I'm going to talk to them. You'll be out of here." Darren assured me before the woman shut the door in his face.

"Yada, yada. What is this, a soap opera? Give me a break. We're all working girls here and in this town, we've got to be tough. We don't cry over boys and menstrual cramps." She waved her veiny fingers in the air. "Now wipe them tears away so we can get down to business."

"I'm not a Baby Doll. I'm not supposed to be here." I told her, wiping below my eyes.

"I hate the delusional ones." She muttered to herself before speaking to me. "Then what are you, a princess? Why the fuck would you be here if you aren't a Baby Doll? Stop wasting my time."

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