By: Rachel van Dyken

“Am I worth?” I whispered, voice hoarse.

He was quiet for a few seconds before answering in a hoarse voice. “For a man like me? Everything.”

My breath hitched in my chest. Everything hurt, from the betrayal of my father, to the fact that I probably wouldn’t be able to finish my education because somewhere along the way I’d turned into a pawn instead of a daughter.

“You’re not crying,” Mr. Blazik observed. “I expected more… emotion.”

“Would that make you feel better about owning me?” I snapped. “Or are tears the only thing that get you off?”

“You’ll be taken care of.” He ignored my rampage as he pulled out a new iPhone and placed it on the table. Then he opened a black folder, laid a sheet of paper next to the phone, and handed me a pen that probably cost more than some people’s cars. “Sign on the dotted line please.”

“Are you seriously asking me to sign my life away right now?”

“It’s not yours in the first place…” His soft sigh was filled with resignation “It’s mine. I own you… but I’d rather you be a willing participant.”

“You’re just as sick as he is,” I whispered, reaching for the pen and scribbling my name across the bottom of the contract without reading it.

“I hope you’ll come to regret saying that.” He barely glanced at the paper now bearing my signature. “Now, let’s discuss your… services.”

“I’m not servicing you.”

His eyebrows shot up to his forehead. “I’m sorry, did I ask you to?”

“N-no, but—”

He held up his hand. “You’ll report to work every morning at eight a.m., you’ll leave when I say you can leave, and everything you do for me is top secret. If any information is leaked to the public… well…”

Yeah, I knew that look. I’d be leaked to the public—in a very accidental way.

“So I work for you?” I stood and crossed my arms. “For how long?”

His smile was wicked, “A year.” He reached out and tilted my chin toward his mouth. “Perhaps more… if I find you agreeable.”

“I’m not sleeping with you.”

“I don’t recall asking you to.”

My eyes narrowed. “So that’s it? You just need a glorified secretary?”

“Something like that…” He ran his hands through his hair and reached into his pocket, pulling out a key. “Shall we have lunch?”

“Wait.” I shook my head. “That’s it? My evil father basically sells me to you, and now we’re going to go to Wendy’s?”

“I hate hamburgers.”

I clenched my teeth together.

“But if that’s your preference…” He placed his hand on the small of my back and directed me toward the door. I moved to pick up my discarded phone. “Leave it, that’s your old life, Maya.”

I hated that he not only knew my first name, but that the way he said it made me shiver.

“My old life?” I croaked. “And today is what? The first day of the rest of my life?”

His eyes darkened. “Let’s just hope you live long enough to enjoy it, hmm?”

Another murder has taken place, this one reportedly, near Starbucks on Pike street. Police ask that Seattle residents trust them to solve the case, the reward for the Pier killer has been raised to seventy five thousand dollars. Any information is helpful. –The Seattle Tribune

A BLACK FOLDER WAS SLAMMED ONTO the table in front of me, it may was well have been a gavel, the sound emitted carried a certain type of finality. The nail in the coffin. The fat lady singing. The pig flying. It was my end, and I was horrified that the powerful man in front of me had a say in it.

I couldn’t decide if I was terrified or simply scared.

“Aren’t you going to read it?” Mr. Blazik asked, his eyes alight with humor. Most likely at my expense, the ass.

I shoved the folder even harder into my purse and glared. “I’d rather not.”

“Your loss.” He shrugged, pressing the penthouse floor.

“I thought we were going to lunch.” The elevator started to move. Panicked, I braced myself against the wall.

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