Home > Pennies (Dollar #1)(6)

Pennies (Dollar #1)(6)
Author: Pepper Winters

One by one, he pointed at us.

We were the only ones bare faced and on display.

One by one, we shrank into ourselves.

Twelve counted before me.

I was lucky thirteen.

Or was that unlucky thirteen? All I needed was a black cat, a fallen down ladder, and a witch’s superstition to well and truly curse me.

The man strode proudly as if he’d personally created each and every one of us. If he was in charge of stripping us of everything and rebuilding us into nothing, then perhaps he had. Maybe he did own us and had full right to sell something I no longer recognised.

“As usual, we have a range of beauties available for your pleasure. You’ve all had time to peruse their files and photos we supplied.”

Wait, what photos and files?

Had our rooms had cameras? Were we secretly catalogued and investigated? My chest rose and fell, pressing against the words I’d scribbled on the stolen toilet paper. Did they know about my tentative writing? Would they take it away from me?

My questions kept me occupied while the man cut over the dance floor and grabbed the first girl in the lineup. Dragging her forward, he forced her onto the podium, holding her until she caught her balance.

The spotlight showed her every stress line, every terror, every tear. She couldn’t hide anything beneath such an invasive glare. Her facial nakedness was made worse as no humanity stared back. Only animal masks and robot masks and all manner of creations.

I don’t want to look like her.

I wouldn’t let these assholes see my horror. If they refused to let us see them, I refused to let them see me. I didn’t have feathers or diamantes to hide my true self, but I did have willpower.

It took four girls to school my features into a rigid, unfeeling shell. Another four girls for me to delete emotion from my gaze and grab what was left to stuff into a newly formed suitcase inside (or should I say soulcase) and slam the lid closed. It took the final four girls to find a way to lock that soulcase, banish all my secrets, hopes, and aspirations, and toss away the key.

My name was Tasmin Blythe, but as my turn rolled around and I was forced to stand proud and prideful on the podium, they gave me a new name. A name forever reminding me of where I came from but stripping me of everything else at the same time.


After the London suburb where my mother’s function was held.

No longer Tasmin. Pimlico…Pim.

I’m glad.

I no longer had to fake being strong and aloof; Pimlico was strong and aloof. Tasmin was locked deep, deep inside and forgotten as I blinked in the bright lights and heard the most damning thing of all.

“I’ll pay one hundred thousand.”

“I’ll go two hundred.”

“I’ll outbid you all and double it.” The room sucked in a gasp as a silhouette of a tall, slender man stepped onto the dance floor. “Four hundred thousand dollars for the girl in white.”

My heart once again tried to build a parachute and escape. That was the highest bid of the evening.

It disgusted me.

How dare they decide my worth? What my fellow slaves were worth. No price tag existed on a human life.

My life.

I hadn’t said a word since the third day of my incarceration. I hadn’t answered their questions about my age or sexual history. I refused to share any number of invasive requests.

I’d taken that small power even though they no doubt knew everything they needed thanks to my driver’s license and social media.

But now…here, on the eve of my sale, I had something to say.

Balling my hands, I glared at the indistinct man who wished to own me. My voice rang out, soft but pure, the only feminine sound in a nest of men.

“I bid one million. Let me buy myself, sir, and I will forget any of this ever happened.”

The bought girls, already ushered and clung to by new masters, gasped. My audacity could shorten my life or prolong it. Either way, it was a gamble I willingly and knowingly chose.

I didn’t have a million. My mother might if she sold our two-bedroom flat in London. But just like I pushed other worries to be solved on a later day, I pushed this one aside, too.

Money was just money.

Pennies added to dollars and dollars added to hundreds.

In the end, the prettily printed paper was worthless because inflation stole its numerical profit, unable to keep those who owned it happy.

My life, on the other hand, would increase in value, growing wiser and richer in experience the longer I survived. I was an investment, not a liability. And I would invest everything I had into giving myself a future.

The man stepped forward, cutting through the glare so his silhouette turned into physical mass. His dirty blond hair was the only thing visible behind the princely mask of some English Lord. “You’re bidding on yourself?” His voice sounded foreign, but I couldn’t place the accent. Mediterranean, perhaps?

Tipping my chin, the podium put me higher than him as I looked down as if he were my subject and I was his queen.

I would rule him. I would never bow.

“That is correct. I am too expensive for you. One million pounds, not dollars. I bid well over your pathetic amount.”

The auctioneer fumbled, clearly uncertain what to do with this change of events. His business was in the money-making game. Selling women was high profit, but if he could earn more by selling me to myself, what did he care if certain corporate rules were broken?

He got paid either way.

Ignoring the man in his English Lord mask, I faced the executioner, begging his gavel to fall on my offer. “One million, sir, and I walk away and never mention this again.”

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