Authors: Jenika Snow
Evernight Publishing ®
Copyright© 2016 Jenika Snow
Cover Artist: Jay Aheer
Editor: Karyn White
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
A MATE FOR THE SAVAGE
Copyright © 2016
It was the sound of her mother screaming that had Audrey waking up. Her heart raced, and the voice in her head said to run. But she couldn’t leave without her mother and brother. They’d been prepared for this, or as prepared as they could be.
The slavers have come for us.
Audrey was out of the bed and rushing toward the door in only a matter of seconds. She held her breath as she gripped the handle and pulled the door open as silent as she could. There was a flickering of light from the candle in the center of the kitchen table. Her mother insisted on leaving one lit throughout the night.
But the shadows were thick, and the sound of another scream had Audrey reacting. She couldn’t run, even if her mother had told her to if the slavers ever came to their village and took them. No, Audrey couldn’t just leave her mother and brother to a fate worse than death.
Because her mother was older she’d be sold as house stock. And her brother, because he was male and in good physical health, would be used as field stock.
But Audrey wouldn’t be used in the house or field. She swallowed, her fear rising. She’d be used as sex stock, and that was not what she was going to allow herself to be. Before leaving the room she grabbed a large log that was over by the fireplace in her room. Curling her fingers around the rough bark, she took a steadying breath. Audrey would not allow her mother or brother to be used as slaves either. She’d rather die than see them end that way.
Without thinking about it anymore, Audrey left the room, careful of her surroundings. She didn’t know how many slavers were in the house, but she knew there was always more than one.
Her mother screamed once more and then there was a sickening thud, the sound ceasing. Audrey’s heart stopped, her throat tightened, and her mouth went dry. The rough wood flooring beneath her bare feet made her steps soundless. Her long red hair was in loose strands over her shoulders and falling to her waist, and she wished she’d tied it up, not wanting any obstructions.
Audrey’s mother’s door was open was partially and through the flickering of the candlelight she could see large shadows moving around. If they’d been wealthy and lived in a city they wouldn’t have slavers kidnapping and killing them. But being poor, living in a small village, and having no electricity or the common comforts the rich had, made Audrey and others like her easy prey. It also didn’t help that her government was corrupt, even condoning and encouraging slavers to hunt down and “get rid” of the poor, as they saw them as nothing more than vermin.
And just as she was about to push the door open, something in the corner of her eye caught her attention. She stilled, turned her head, and her world fell away as she saw the lifeless eyes of her brother staring at her. Tears instantly welled in her eyes, and a small sound escaped her.
Then her mother’s door opened, and Audrey turned her head to look into the cold, black eyes of one of the slave traders. Audrey looked around his shoulder and saw a puddle of blood on the ground, followed by her mother’s body. Audrey looked at the man again and saw the grisly smile on his face. He stepped to the side, and that’s when she knew he’d killed her mother. The tears fell down her cheeks, and as much as she wanted to scream, run, fight back, all she could do was stand there frozen, with horror, agony, and despair filling her.
“Shame about the boy,” the slaver said. “He would have made good field stock.” He looked over his shoulder at her mother. “But the old woman put up too much of a fight. She should have come and she would have had a cushy position as house stock.”
Audrey swallowed, the tears falling harder and faster down her cheeks. The slaver reached out and grabbed the white nightgown she wore.
“But you,” he all but purred. “You’ll make good pussy stock.”
And then Audrey felt something sharp go into her arm. She turned around and saw the second slaver standing behind her. She opened her mouth to scream, not that it would do much good, but before anything came out this wave of haziness filled her. Reaching out and grabbed onto the doorframe, Audrey pushed her way past the man behind her. He didn’t stop her, but with the drugs he’d injected into her she knew it wasn’t like she could get far.
She reached out to grab onto the wall, but the floor rushed up to greet her. It was when she was face down on the ground, with the laughter of the slavers filling her head that Audrey knew her life was truly over.
“Five thousand lupines.”
Audrey felt her throat tighten at the sum that was just called out … the amount she was just bought for.
Someone grabbed her arm roughly and jerked her back. She wore another white dress, similar to her nightgown she’d been wearing when taken from her home, but this one was ornamented with lace and even a few gems. It was to attract buyers, to make her seem more appealing.
It was so she’d fetch the highest amount she could get.
“Move,” the slaver ordered her and all but pushed her off the stage. Tripping over her feet, she braced a hand on the fencing that had been erected around the auction block.
When she’d woken up after the drugs had worn off several days ago, she’d found herself in the back of a cargo vehicle, a handful of other kidnapped women sitting around her. They all stared at her, but none would make eye contact. So, she’d sat in the back of that cargo vehicle, the clear roof above her giving her a shot of the sky as it went from light to dark.
Once they’d reached their destination, which had been days’ worth of travel, the slavers had taken them out of the back of the vehicle by pulling on the chains that were wrapped around their necks.
And then she’d been put in a room, fed scraps, given filthy water, and only allowed one bath since her capture … and that bath had come right before this auction.
The auction, or “Floating Sale” as it was known in this country, moved around. But buyers came from all over the world to purchase slaves. Today had been about the sex slaves, and she’d been thrown in with the other young, fertile, and healthy females.
Some of the females would be strictly be used for sex by their “masters”. The fertile females would be used as breeding stock for their masters and their wives that couldn’t have children. And then there were the rare “Gems”, as the slavers called them, which were sold for astronomical prices due to the fact they still had their virginity intact.
Audrey had been one of the Gems thrown up on the block.
“Get in the back with the others and wait for your buyer to claim you.” The slaver pushed her forward, and she stumbled, nearly falling over and onto the girl in front of her. The chain around her neck was removed, and although she wasn’t restrained at the moment, there were several slavers around with electrical prods that they used on the disobedient “stock”.
“Fuck you,” a female said, her voice loud.
Audrey looked to the side and watched the situation unfold. She remembered the woman from earlier today. She’d been the first to be placed on the auction block, sold as breeding stock. She’d been feisty, though, and even if she’d been slapped around, gotten the electrical prod, and had a split lip, she’d still gotten large sum from a buyer. She also hadn’t stopped fighting.
Maybe Audrey was too weak to fight back, but any little disobedience she displayed resulted in her getting slapped around and threatened to be sold as a Doona: a female that was bought for the sheer purpose of being the punching bag to a sadistic buyer.
“I won’t be some vessel for a fucker. Screw all of you,” the woman kept shouting, not caring that the slavers were slapping her, ordering her to behave. The woman was as good as dead if she kept it up. The only reason she was still alive was because she’d been sold. But it was also obvious the buyer must not care if his “property” was bruised, because the slavers had no problem hitting her.
“You keep looking and they’ll turn their wrath on you.”
Audrey looked at the woman in front of her, but she had her head down and didn’t say anything else. Audrey didn’t speak either, because she knew the other woman was right. This situation was already bad enough, and she didn’t want to draw unnecessary attention to herself. Of course she also needed to figure out how she could escape, because this was not a life she wanted to live. She’d rather kill herself than be a female that was only called upon to please a man that bought her.
“Put them all in a cargo box until their owners pick them up,” a slaver ordered, and Audrey and the other handful of women were pushed into a cargo box. It was transparent, with material that allowed oxygen to exit and enter, but was sealed from the outside. The door was shut, and just as the slaver was about to lock it the woman that had been causing the commotion broke free from the slavers holding her. The slaver that was about to lock the door charged after her, and Audrey saw her escape.
This is it—your one and only escape.
She looked at the women in the cargo box with her, and wanted to help them escape, as well.
“Come on, we have a chance to escape.”
No one looked at her aside from that one woman that had warned her just moments before.
“You’ll get captured before you make it into the woods.”
Audrey didn’t have time to think about any of that, even if it probably was the truth. She’d rather die than live like this, and that might be what happened. There were double-wired doors across from the cargo box, and although getting to it would have been impossible under normal circumstance given the fact there should be a guard, it was currently unattended, and the lock wasn’t state of the art. As long as she could find a piece of debris to pry open the latch, she could make her escape, or at least try.
She swallowed, knowing these might be her very last moments, but wanting to try and die trying than face a world where she didn’t have a life.
“You’ll die,” the woman said again, and Audrey stopped and looked at the woman that had warned her at first, and who was clearly concerned. Yet she wouldn’t look at her.
“I have to try.”
With the slavers trying to control the other woman, Audrey pushed open the cargo door and slipped out. Her heart was beating wildly as she moved toward the double gates, keeping her focus on the men that were now surrounding the woman. She’d managed to get a piece of what looked like metal and held it to her throat.
“Get the hell away,” the woman screamed.
“She’s worth a lot and due to be a breeder. Don’t harm her irreparably,” a slaver said to the men that were creeping closer to her.
Audrey wanted to help her, but she didn’t know what to do. And then the woman looked right at Audrey and screamed out, “Run.” She then moved the metal across her throat, red blood gushing out of the gaping wound.
Half of the slavers turned and stared at Audrey, started shouting, and that’s when she turned and ran toward the gate. Wrenching it open was far easier than she thought it would be, but then again seeing as this was a floating auction they had to be able to pick up and move to the next location without having to break down many things, fancy locks included.
But as she ran, she saw a pile of debris from the auction set up. Grabbing a piece of metal, which Audrey realized must have been where the woman got her weapon, Audrey shoved the shard in the latch, pulled, and heard a click as the latch came undone. She wrenched the door open with enough force she all but swung backward with the gate.
She heard shouting from the slavers, but she didn’t dare look behind her. The closer she got to the thickness of the woods, the more hope she had. Audrey could hide from them, and, she hoped, live through this. But no matter how positively she thought, there was that voice in the back of her head that told her if they caught her the life she’d lead would be far worse than death.
The terrain in this part of the country was rugged, with massive mountains in the background, snowcapped peaks topping them, and thick, dangerous forests surrounding them. She didn’t care though. Her village had been in the center of thick woods, and she knew she could survive enough to get away from the slavers.
I can do this.
But there was this strange whooshing of air behind her, and a second after she heard it there was a sharp pain in her side. Crying out, but forcing herself not to stop, or even slow down, Audrey pushed herself even harder. She ran faster, her lungs burning, her heart racing.
The shouting was so loud her ears rang, but she didn’t stop, not even when she felt wetness warm her flesh. She glanced down briefly, saw her white gown covered in blood at the side, but didn’t stop. She couldn’t.
She could hear their yelling the same words over and over again.
But Audrey ignored them, didn’t care what she faced in these unfamiliar woods. As long as she was away from her current situation she’d face off with a three-headed Ligra.
She may not be familiar with this part of the country, but a forest was a forest in the most elemental sense, right? There may be different beasts that resided within, but she’d been taught well enough how to survive, do minimal hunting and forage, and even survive in harsh weather. It was all they’d had living in poverty, almost like they were in a different time altogether. Whereas the cities of where she lived were thriving with science and technology, where Audrey was from was like a primal story.