"Everly! Get your lazy ass up! I'm hungry!" my aunt's loud, obnoxious voice calls up the stairs. l let out a tired groan as I throw back the thin, itchy cover before hurrying to get dressed. I quickly pull on the faded brown dress that is folded on the chair in the corner. It is one of three outfits I own, all hand-me-downs from my Aunt Lutessa. She gets a monthly payment from the accounts that my parents left behind for me. The money is supposed to be used to buy me the things I need. However, she claims that it is only enough for the food and bills to keep our water and electric on and a roof over our heads. I know she's lying though. Every time she gets paid she comes home with bags of new clothes and jewelry for herself. I look at myself in the cracked mirror that is propped against the wall and let out a sigh before pulling my long, dark hair into a ponytail.
I hurry down the steps and into the kitchen where I find my aunt sitting at the table on her cell phone. I'm not sure what she is doing, though I'm positive it's nothing important. From what I can tell, she is scrolling through one of her social media accounts. "It's about time you useless, ungrateful brat," she remarks as she spots me entering the room.
"I'm sorry Aunt Tessa. I overslept," I murmur as I bow my head in submission. I try my best to not get on her bad side, or should I say worse side.
"I don't want excuses you little slut! Just make me some god damn breakfast so I can get to work! Some of us actually need to make a living!"
"Yes, ma'am. Sorry ma'am," I quickly respond as I begin pulling ingredients out of the refrigerator. I bring everything over to the stove as I begin to make her a ham and cheese omelet with tomato and spinach. My stomach growls and my mouth waters as I watch the food cook on the stovetop. I wish I could have some. My aunt only allows me to eat whatever is left on her plate, which isn't usually much. I do my best to sneak what I can, but I have to be careful. She once caught me eating some of her leftovers in the refrigerator and I got a beating. I had been sore and hardly able to move for days after that.
I hate my life now. I use to have a great one. My parents were amazing and loving. They were always making me laugh and telling me how much they love me. They would comfort me and hug me whenever I was hurt or sad. We had been so close. Then, six years ago they were in a car accident that killed them both. I was suppose to be with them but had ended up staying with a friend that night instead. Now, every day I regret not being with them. I miss them. I miss my old life. I miss my big, beautiful home with the large garden out back where I would play. Back then I had friends, parents, I was happy.
"Stop daydreaming you fat cow!" Aunt Tessa hollers, bringing me out of my thoughts. I move the omelet to a plate and bring it over to her before pouring her a cup of coffee with her creamer of choice and a dash of milk. I begin to walk away to begin the rest of my chores for the day when she stops me. "I have a guest coming over this evening. The house better be spotless. And while he's here you better not leave your room. Don't even make a sound," she orders as she points her finger threateningly in my face. I quickly nod my head before rushing off. She frequently has different men coming over and taking her out, they often come back and head to her bedroom. All the while, I'm pretending like I don't exist up in my so-called room, which is actually the small attic space above the living room.
The rest of the day is spent cleaning as I dust, sweep, mop, do the dishes and laundry, clean the bathrooms and everything else. I don't need to give my aunt another reason for a beating. I'm just finishing up when I hear the doorbell. Jumping in surprise, I look at the front door, debating on if I should open or not. She typically doesn't want any of her 'guests' to know I'm here, but I'm sure she'll get mad at me if they leave because I didn't let them in. I stand there for a moment before letting out a sigh and going toward the door.
I open it to find a man standing in front of me with a dark goatee and mustache. He has a receding hairline and he's only a few inches taller than me. His brown eyes quickly narrow at me as they rake over my body, making me feel nauseous. The corner of his thin mouth tilts up into a smirk and my body instantly tenses. I don't feel comfortable with how this guy is looking at me and now I'm regretting opening the door. I close it slightly so that I'm ready to slam it in his face if necessary.
Drawing myself up to my full height and summoning as much confidence as I can, I ask, "May I help you?"
"I'm here for Lutessa. I didn't know she had a maid..." he begins as he takes a step closer and I fight the urge to back away.
"She's not home yet," I reply before pausing, unsure of what else I should say. Should I ask him to leave a message? Or to come back? Should I offer him something to drink? Should I let him wait in the living room? I don't like the idea of being alone with him, but I'm not sure what Lutessa will do if I send him away.
"That's fine. I'll wait," the man remarks as he shoves his way into the front room causing me to stumble backwards. He catches me by the waist and pulls me close, making me cringe at the smell of stale cigarettes. He holds on longer than necessary and I quickly squirm out of his grasp and step away.
"O-okay, y-you can just wait in h-here then," I stutter as my nerves begin to get the better of me. He smirks at me, seeming to enjoy the fact that he is making me nervous.
He saunters towards me as I continue to back away until I hit the wall. His hands come up along either side of me, caging me in as he leans towards me and speaks softly near my ear. "I can think of a few ways to pass the time..." he begins as his hand begins to move up my thigh and under the hem of my dress. I grab his wrist, stopping is progression and his eyes meet mine.
"Stop," I reply forcefully.
"Quit being such a tease," he states before yanking his hand out of my tight grip.
"I-I'm not. I'm just not i-interested," I begin before taking a deep breath to regain my composure. "Lutessa will be home soon and you can wait on the sofa," I sternly inform him before turning to walk away.
He grabs my wrist and pulls me towards him and I instinctively strike at him with my free hand. A loud smack resounds through the small house followed by a tense moment of silence. My eyes widen as his face grows serious and he turns to glare at me. "You little bitch!" He begins to advance on me again and I turn to run. My head is yanked backwards as he grabs a handful of my hair. I let out a wail before he slams me into the wall. Dark spots dance in my vision as I collapse to my knees. Blindly, I reach my hands out trying to force myself up, but his fist hits me in the face and I fall backwards.
I let out a groan as I writhe on the floor from the pain. "Please!" I beg. "Stop!"
He doesn't listen as he rolls me onto my back and climbs on top of me so that he is straddling my hips. "Oh shut up you little whore. Just give me what I want," he demands before grabbing the neck of my dress and tearing the front open, exposing the plain bra that I was wearing underneath. My hands reach in front of me as I try to push him away. He struggles to grab my wrists and I finally manage to get my hand on a heavy ceramic ash tray that is sitting on the entry table. I smash it over his head and he falls off of me. I quickly get up to run away, but his hand darts out and grabs me by the ankle, causing me to fall on my face.
Just then I can hear the sound of the front door as the knob is turned and it is opened. Aunt Tessa walks in and immediately freezes as she spots us. "What the hell is going on here?!" she yells as she marches towards us while the man scrambles to get up to his feet. As I'm struggling to get onto my own my aunt yanks me up by the arm. "Are you coming onto Dean you worthless tramp?!" she shrieks as she shakes me roughly.
"N-NO! H-he tried to rape me!"
"LIAR!" she screams as she shakes me again. "What man would go after a fat, no-good whore like yourself?! You are nothing! And it's time you learn that!" She raises me up in front of her before smacking me across the face. The sting is instantaneous as my hand flies up to cover my cheek and tears fill my eyes. Her face calms slightly before she turns to the filth that is just standing there watching the scene unfold. "Dean, wait for me in the car. I need to teach this slut a lesson before our date. I'll be right out."
He shoots me a glare and nods before turning to leave. I wipe at my wet cheeks as I hear the door close and my aunt goes over to the coat closet and comes back with a belt. "Please Aunt Tessa," I plead with her. "I'm n-not lying! He f-forced his way in. H-he hit me..."
"Why are you always ruining my life?!" she hollers over me as she brings the belt down on me like a whip. I instinctively hold my arms up in front of me to protect myself and the belt bites into my forearms. She grabs me and throws me on the floor and I land on my stomach before she hits me with the belt again. She hits me over and over as I curl up on the floor, trying my best to protect my head and neck against her assault.
When she finally grows tired she drops the belt on the floor and leans over me. "When I get back this mess better be cleaned up! You hear me you lazy slut?!"
I begin to sob, only managing to give her a slight nod. She turns on her heel and leaves me, lying in a heap on the floor with bruises and cuts now covering my body. I remain their as my body is wracked with my heart-wrenching cries. My whole body is slick and sticky from blood. It aches to move, but I don't want another beating. After what seems like forever, I manage to get myself up and clean the mess before crawling into the shower to rinse off.
Eventually I'm collapsing in my bed, which is an old dirty mattress lying on the floor. I curl up in a ball and pull my itchy blanket over me. All of my movements are slow and painful and if it weren't for the pure exhaustion that I'm feeling right now, I'm not sure if I would be able to fall asleep. Fortunately for me, I'm too tired and darkness soon takes me. I don't know how long I'm asleep before my aunt's voice fills the room. "Get up Everly! Get dressed! We've got to get going!" she demands.
My eyes flutter open and I look around, confused. It's still dark out. "What's going on? Going where?" I ask sleepily, still trying to make sense of what is happening.
"Just hurry up and do as I say you worthless brat!" she responds before slamming the door and marching back downstairs.
My body is screaming as I force myself up an into a dingy white dress. I slide on my shoes and go downstairs where I find Aunt Tessa waiting by the door with her coat on. Her foot is tapping on the floor impatiently and she looks up at me as I begin to descend the stairs from the attic. "It's about damn time! Hurry up! We don't have all night!"
She opens the front door and gestures outside to her car that is parked out front. "Aun-"
"Shut up! Just come on! Get in!" I shake my head and get into the passenger seat before buckling up. I lean my forehead against the window as my aunt comes around and gets into the driver's seat. The cold glass feels good to my skin and I close my eyes, taking in a deep breath.
We are driving for a while and at some point I fall back to sleep. When I wake up I have no idea where we are, but see that it's been three hours since we left the house. Where is she taking me? What is going on? I'm starting to get nervous. I sit up straighter and begin looking around, trying to figure out if there are any signs or landmarks that I recognize.
Soon, we are coming into a big city and she is winding through roads. My anxiety is continuing to grow as I keep trying to find out where we are going. Each time she tells me to shut up or to leave her alone. My stomach is churning as I watch the buildings around us. They seem to get more and more rundown the further we go. Finally, we stop in front of a plain brick warehouse-looking building with a solid black door. My aunt drags me up to it and rings the doorbell. A large man in a tight black t-shirt and jeans answers with his arms crossed against his chest. "State your name and business," he says gruffly.
"Lutessa Andrews. I have a meeting with Lord Vadim Lacroix," she states as she keeps a tight grip on my arm. The guard nods and steps back, allowing us through before leading us through a dark hallway. It seems just like any old warehouse except for all of the sounds I can hear from rooms I can't see. Loud music blares through the walls as though there is a club on the other side. As we keep walking I can hear moans and screams from various rooms. With each step my sense of dread grows. Where the hell are we?
We are lead through a set of double doors and suddenly the space is transformed with thick luxurious carpet of deep red with white and black walls. Once we reach a door at the end of the hallway the man knocks on it and a voice from within calls out, "Enter."
The guard opens the door and gestures for us to go in before closing it behind us. Another man is sitting at a massive mahogany desk in a high-back chair. His skin is deathly pale and his black hair is slicked back. He's attractive with his tall, lean build and his gray eyes but he is also very... eerie. The corners of his mouth twist upward into an evil grin as we come in and he stands from his desk and comes around to meet us. My aunt shoves me forward and the man begins to circle me as his eyes trace over every inch of my body. "So, this is the girl?" he asks softly and I wonder if it was meant to be a rhetorical question.
"Yes. This is the one I told you about," she answers.
He nods as he comes around to the front of me again. "Good. She'll do nicely." He turns and walks toward his desk as he picks up a small brown bag and brings it to my aunt, dropping it into her hand. "And your payment. Just as we discussed."
"Thank you sir," Aunt Tessa replies.
I turn to her with confusion. "Payment for what?"
"He'll tell you. You're not my problem anymore." With that my aunt turns and walks away from me, leaving me alone in this room with the strange man. I look at him, waiting for an explanation.
"Is it not obvious my dear?" he asks in a mocking tone. My eyebrows furrow as I try to piece everything together but I'm not sure. If I didn't know any better, I would say that it seems as though my aunt just sold me to this man. But that can't be right. Can it? The man smiles. "Very good little one. You would be right." My eyes widen as my attention turns back to the man. I didn't say that out loud. Did he just read my mind? "Right again," he says with an evil smile.
"B-but h-how? Why? This is illegal! It's-" I began, trying to make sense of everything.
"Human laws don't concern me," he remarks as his wicked smile spreads across his face, showing me his two sharp fangs. His eyes turn a bright crimson red and a surprised gasp slips through my lips before everything goes black.