Note; this book is a palate cleanser - most definitely not my best work, I wrote it for the sake of taking a break from my others hence there will be grammatical errors, plot holes etc.
Should you choose to continue, take my writing with a grain of salt.
If you would like to read a proper written book, I would suggest Beasts of Men and/or Demon of Lust.
The day was dark despite it being one of the most celebrated instances during the year. Heavy dark clouds billowed in from the West, and with it came the thick heady scent of rain threatening to pour and disrupt the occasion.
Inayah peered up at the sky and sighed lowly, pressing into her friend sitting beside her on the wagon whose wheels bumped on the weathered road its tread.
“It’s so cold,” Anita whispered and Inayah agreed, wordlessly securing an arm around her friend and pulling her close to her side. The nuzzled against each other’s sides in tensed silence as familiar rooftops slowly came to view.
Thin wisps of billowing smoke rose from thatched roofs, and soon came the drifting banter of children and adults as they moved about - from their homes towards the main hall.
Inayah exhaled a cloud of warmth that wicked into the cold dull evening air. She was exhausted but knew that sleep, especially now, was almost forbidden.
The slave market held annually at the village as girls born and raised within the middle and lower class were to be sold to the highest bidder at the auctions.
Myriads of girls would be attending from the ages of eleven to nineteen being the oldest and possibly the readiest for marriage.
Inayah’s gaze listless wandered over the barren cropland, dried out corn husks billowing lazily in the wind.
She knew the time had come for her to be auctioned off a slave, the money given to her poor-ridden family. Despite the fear that leapt in her throat, there was a relief and certain warmth in knowing that her value, though small, would ease their burdens.
It had been two days since they last ate a proper meal, with winter fast approaching all crops had been to ice over and her father had gone off to a far market in search of meat. They would need food soon.
Inayah thought of her youngest brother, Zahir -- wide brown eyes that glistened over with tears at the sight of her retreating, small wiry hands that had clutched at the hem of her skirt, cheeks flushed from the strain of weeping as Inayah bade her mother and him a final goodbye.
Her chest clenched and she grits her teeth to prevent further crying.
It would be futile, anyway.
The past was behind and all that lay ahead was this life.
The wagon drew to a jostling, shaky halt and both girls leapt off, hands still clutched tightly together, so tight their knuckles paled ghost white. They automatically began to move towards the wooden building where the auction would take place.
Inayah pursed her lips into a thin, grim line as her gaze cast dubious self-conscious glances at the numerous girls all lined up outside. They wore their best outfits, and most seemed to be within the middle-class family range. Perfectly combed hairs pulled back into neat ponytails or let fall in soft golden ringlets around their faces.
Suddenly, a pair of calloused hands pressed over her eyes and she felt unfamiliar body heat against her back. The figure remained silent. Inayah stiffened, scrunching her nose to catch a proper scent of the person.
Something warm flooded her chest as her grim mouth curved upwards in a smile. “Oscar,” she spoke and the hands dropped to her shoulders, squeezing encouragingly.
A mouth pressed against the shell of her ear minutes later; “I will be inside, waiting.” And then he was gone.
The interior is warm. Inayah is placed at the back of the line, much to her expectation, not that she was complaining and silently watches as the auction begins.
The prettiest girls go first, bagging just enough money - somewhere between twenty-five to thirty silver coins. As the line depletes so does the amount and by the time Inayah is climbing the stage, she expects nothing more than a meagre five silver coins.
Her heart judders and she curses the lack of refinement and beauty in her. It had never bothered her before, tomboyish looks - swamp brown eyes, a cluster of sunburned freckles from toiling beneath the malevolent sun and singed brown hair that burned at the edges when her brother recklessly played with a candle.
Her hands and legs were neither smooth nor pale - bronzed and littered with scars and dried scabs she had nervously plucked at on the way to town.
“Inayah Ziniat,” the auctioneer announced with less enthusiasm, “hails from the zinnias family.” He gestures for her to spin and she does so slowly, self consciously.
All the while, Inayah is vaguely aware of someone’s stare.
Timidly, she peers up from beneath her long lashes, scanning the crowd of disinterested people, her mouth twitches at the sight of Oscar standing by the door smiling wide at her. It did not matter whom she was sold to, he would always have her heart, and as long as they remained in the same village--
“Are there any bidder-” the auctioneer was cut off by a low, sonorous voice?
“Forty silver coins.”
Inayah almost fell off the block as there were gasps and loud whispers.
“Uhh... first bid of forty silver coins. Anyone else?”
The room was eerily quiet as the farmers all looked at the newcomer.
“Dowry accepted Mr?”
Inayah’s eyes averted from the faces to the figure that had bid for her. It was a slender man dressed in all black, but that was not what attracted Inayah’s attention.
The handsome quiet man sat tall and rigid, one knee cast over the other, hands formally clasping over the knee. The stranger was not a local, that much she could tell from the sharp angularity of his face, hair blacker than black looking like the perfect spill of ink on a midnight sky.
The man raised an eyebrow, drawing her attention from his hair and the rest of his masculine face. His nose held just enough authority without being too big. His chin was square enough to expose every clench of his teeth, and his throat powerful enough to reveal every swallow, rippling with sinew and muscle.
Her eyes followed his neck, following the contours of flawless skin until it disappeared beneath a dark grey shirt with the collar unbuttoned. He wore a casual black coat as if he’d shrugged into it at the last minute, and his long legs put him two heads taller than her short frame.
Inayah’s heart began to hammer vigorously.
Her whole body felt cold yet hot, perspiration surfacing along her upper lip and her palms began to grow clammy. She fidgeted on the step and lowered her eyes upon realizing that the man was still watching her.
Inayah licked her suddenly dry lips and shyly peered at Salem. His eyes were still locked on hers, though his head had tilted to the side, giving the auctioneer his mild attention.
The stranger began to rise then, and Inayah could do nothing but cower despite the great distance between. He was large and moved as nimble as a cat.
“Amount accepted,” the auctioneer banged his gavel as the bag of the coin was tossed onto his podium.
Everything else happened in a blur of confusion. One moment Inayah was perched on the stool and the next a hand was reaching for her wrist, gently tugging her behind the curtain as the auction continued.
“Oh, Inayah.” A soft voice pried her attention back to reality and she felt soft hands wiping at her cheeks.
Had she been crying?
“That man,” Inayah began then caught herself somehow unable to find the right words. Anita embraced her then, pressed her into the warm chest. Inayah clutched at her only friend.
“Do not cry,” Anita whispered, pulling away just enough to scrub at her glowing cheeks with the sleeve of her tattered sweater. “Do not show him your weakness so early on.”
The door cracked open, a man peering through.
“He awaits you.”
Anita turned to Inayah, they clutched each other, wide-eyed. Words remained unspoken but it was evident what they meant. Survive.
Inayah hugs Anita one last time, unable to fully pry herself away from the girl. The ache in her chest only increases with each step in the stranger’s direction and she gazes at his extended hand warily.
His hand is warm and rough as it closes over her small one, then with surprising gentleness, he guides her out of the wooden building outback.
The sky is velvet black, lit by torches placed on walls. Two large horses stand by the village’s exit. Inayah squints through the darkness, searching for the stranger and she hesitates as he steps out of the woods.
Her eyes drop to the earth as the servant guides her towards him.
“Hands out,” He said then binds her wrists with thick rope and ties that to his saddle before mounting the large horse, the cloak he wears sways in its stead.
She will be walking.
Inayah glances over her shoulder one last time, her stomach clenching as the horse begins its slow journey.
That was the last she saw of her home.