The throng of petrified humans scurries to the rows of awaiting seats. Like the rest of the humans, Elle submissively trains her eyes on the dirty floor and moves silently. She anxiously sits with the other eligible girls as the domineering guards sneer at the humans. The only sounds are from sniffling teens and abusive wardens.
For six years, Elle has been preparing for this moment, dreading this moment. The previous ceremony was held before she was born, but she has heard gruesome stories. Tales of death and grief plague her thoughts, and her dreams have been haunted by the merciless prince for many years. The probability of Elle being chosen is slim, but that doesn't stop her subconscious from conjuring the scene a million times.
Following the head guard's order, all the slaves line up on the front stage, a few continuing to cry. Elle hopes, for the safety of the young girls, they quit their blubbering before the royal family arrives. Just like she'd been taught, she keeps her eyes down-cast and her hands clasped behind her back. The fear begins to grow, and bile rises in her throat.
The head guard begins to bark the agenda of the night, "The prince will be here soon. Don't look at him, don't speak unless spoken to, and you may only call him Prince Zander." As he speaks, he paces up and down the long row, scowling at the humans. One of the sobbing girls draws the attention of the evil man. The small girl can't be older than thirteen, yet she's thrown into this situation. With a malicious sneer, he approaches her, invading her space. "Why are you crying, human? Do you need a reason to cry?" he shouts, and the poor girl looks like she'll faint any second. Choking on terror, she is unable to respond to the cruel creature. The echo of the slap resonates throughout the auditorium, making Elle cringe and the victim scream in pain. "Answer me!"
"No, sir," she spits out, trembling with fear.
He shoves her forcefully with a growl. "Get back in line, pest."
The gold-rimmed grand doors at the opposite end of the room open to reveal the king and queen, followed by the prince and princess. Each human holds their breath, and Elle catches the "big and bad" warden gulp nervously. A frightening aura seeps from the royals' veins, and no one dares to say a word. After the golden family ascends the stairs, they sit in their temporary thrones, overlooking the terrified crowd.
"Joseph," King Leon calls, his voice smooth and deep. The man in charge scurries to the feet of his king, waiting for instructions. "Separate all the virgins from the non-virgins. Zander doesn't need a used slave."
Hastily, the fumbling man carries out King Leon's order, making Elle mentally roll her eyes. Elle remains on the stage, and she regrets her choice to remain pure. If she was tainted, she would no longer be in this wretched situation.
After the king's demand is completed, he gestures to his brooding son. "Go take your pick," he casually commands as if he's picking a puppy. In more ways than one, he is. To the werewolf community, humans are nothing but dogs.
He strolls down the long row, observing the girls like they are nothing more than the dirt on the bottom of his shoe. Not a single one has caught his attention yet, and the sliver of a dread grows in Elle. This morning, she had no doubts that she wouldn't be chosen. Out of all the fine, trained women, why would he pick such a runt like Elle? He would be deliberately picking the shorter straw in this deal.
Elle has never been a slave that waged a war between masters or made one pay an unreasonable amount to own her. Her brown hair is too frizzy to maintain, her complexion is splotchy, and her green eyes resemble a swamp. Although her previous master tried to ingrain her worth into Elle's mind, she just can't comprehend how she could be considered beautiful. There had always been someone better.
Prince Zander pauses in front of an older girl, maybe 18 or so. "Aren't you a pretty little thing," he remarks, grasping her chin between his thumb and forefinger. The slave's inky locks cascade down her bare back, skimming the hem of her skirt. Abruptly, he drops her chin and calls to Joseph, "Take her to a briefing room." After he is finished with the black-haired beauty, he moves to the next slave, slowly creeping towards Elle's spot. He sends one other girl to the briefing room, a petite brunette. Now in front of Elle, the beast raises a brow at her impeccable position. For a few minutes, he simply stands there, but she doesn't dare to peak a glance at the prince. Her training has prepared her for this moment, and she dreads the punishment she'll receive if she insults Prince Zander. Like a vulture, he circles her. A faint gasp escapes her plump lips when his fingertips rake up her sides, earning a deep chuckle from her tormentor. "Take this one, too." His gravelly words stop her heart, and in a panic, she snaps her neck up to meet Prince Zander's eyes.
Joseph drags her off the stage to a back room, but she flails in his arms, the fear overtaking her. A sharp slap stills her for a minute until she notices the torture equipment hanging on the cement walls. With all her might, Elle balls her tiny fist and punches Joseph, praying for the best. "You bitch!" he screeches, clutching his nose. Restraining her with the chains on the wall, he fondles a whip with a sadistic sneer. The first strike makes Elle yelp; the unfamiliar sting scorches her body. Nineteen more lashes rain down before the pissed guard returns the whip to its spot, blood dripping from it. Without another word, he leaves.
The pain causes puddles of tears to stream from her closed eyes, and she wishes with all her might that she will not be picked. For some, it is a great honor to be chosen by the royal family, but to Elle it is a dark curse that cannot be broken. She can only sob, knowing there is no way out of her awful predicament. A microscopic sliver of hope remains. The two other females are more gorgeous than Elle. One of them is sure to be Prince Zander's slave.
The heavy cell door creaks open, but Elle doesn't possess the strength to lift her head. Her instincts tell her it is the prince. Maybe it's his scent that told her, or maybe it's the cloud of power that entered the room. For a few minutes, Elle is unsure what is happening because he is silent. "Why are you bleeding?" he asks, his rough voice like gravel crunching under tires yet like silk.
"I-I," Elle stutters, but she cries out in pain when the chains drop, making her collapse on the cement floor. Black spots dance behind her closed lids, and she writhes in agony. Her past master had never intentionally hurt her, so her pain tolerance is almost nonexistent. After Prince Zander repeats his question, Elle forces herself to sit up. Elle's feeble voice answers like a whispering mouse, "Sir Joseph punished me." The four words drained her energy, and she fell again into a heap of crimson skin.
"Remember to adress me with my title," he reminds Elle softly.
"Sorry, Sir. I mean Prince Zander. Sorry," Elle fumbles with her apology, realizing what an embarrassment she is proving to be.
Returning to the proper position for slaves, she hangs her head in shame. It hasn't been five minutes, yet she's already brought dishonor to her name. The terror of being so close to the one responsible for her sleepless nights overwhelms her, and the dam breaks, allowing the tears to rush down her cheeks.
"Stand up," he orders, unfazed by her sobs.
Her attempts of obeying prove to be futile as she lacks the energy to move. Elle's frustration builds up, and her weaping becomes heavier. "I can't," she admits. Large hands grip her shoulders, roughly pulling her up. Another scream leaves her lips as the jostling movement brings more misery. Although the prince is supporting the majority of her weight, she is successfully on her feet.
The prince asks with genuine concern lacing his words, "Why are you crying?"
Bitterness flows through her body, influencing her response. "I don't know. Everything's just peachy! How could I possibly be crying?"
With a death-like grip, he tugs on Elle's brown hair, and Elle is forced to crane her neck in order to lessen the pain. "You will speak to me with respect. You are nothing but a human." A deep growl rumbles in his chest as he views her exposed skin. Zander mulls over the consequences of picking such a feisty slave. Well, it certainly would never be boring, and he would enjoy molding her into his obedient slave. "I want you," he admits, making Elle showcase her adamant fear. There's nothing she can do.
Elle kneels at his feet on the floorboard of the coach with her hands tied behind her back. The prince was given a separate buggy for the trip back to the palace, and that leaves her completely alone with Prince Zander. Elle is grateful that he's been silent the entire ride. She barely controlled her tears in the briefing room, but she can't possibly trust her voice to cloak her feelings. All words that are forming in her mind aren't kind in the slightest, each one would probably earn her a punishment. Her body had been hurt enough already. There's no need to deliberately add to her agony.
The coach bounces over a bump in the road, making Elle tumble onto her stomach with an "oomph." She wiggles her body in an attempt to return to her knees, but she remains on the floorboard. Elle glances over her shoulder, seeking help from her owner. A deep crimson colors her cheeks when she notices his hooded eyes are fixated on her now exposed panties. During her fall, her black skirt bunched around her waist, revealing her bottom.
"Sir, can you help me?" Elle timidly requests.
With the assistance of her master, she rests again on her knees in a submissive position. However, now she has captured the attention of Prince Zander. He grips her chin in the similarly to how he held the black-haired slave at the ceremony. His coal-colored eyes drink in her delicate features, seemingly satisfied with Elle's appearance. With the proper training, she'll prove to be a successful slave. At the choosing and now she is showing several submissive characteristics: bowing her head, keeping a respective distance between the master and herself, only speaking when expected to. When she told of being punished by Sir Joseph, the blossoming slave didn't blame Joseph or act as if her punishment was unjust. She masked her emotions well. Before Prince Zander is able to act on his building lust, the wagon halts. They've arrived.
Prince Zander leads his newly purchased human down the winding halls while the other servants try to sneak a glimpse of the new edition to the palace. To avoid tripping, Elle is forced to almost jog in order to keep up with the prince's large steps. Elle has no idea where she is being taken, and she is too panic-stricken to voice her question. After several turns, the two arrive at a closed door with the label "slave" on it.
"This will be your room for the time being. I expect you dressed and kneeling by the bed in ten minutes. Understand?" Prince Zander explains, his voice thick with power. Elle continues to stare at the wooden floor, fumbling with her hands nervously. When the heat of his gaze intensifies, she peaks at him through her eyelashes, and Zander can feel his member twitch with need. Focusing on her disobediance, he grasps her hair. "Understand?" he repeats with an underlying threat.
Breathlessly, she replies, "Yes."
Another tug on her tresses elicits a faint gasp from her parted lips. "You will address me correctly, or you will be punished," Prince Zander warns.
"Yes, sir," Elle frantically mends her mistake.
"Your time starts now."
There are two pieces of furniture in the cell-like room: a bed and a vanity table. On top of the white sheet that's draped across the bed is a sheer lace gown, matched with a pair of underwear. Her body moves automatically, her mind anxiously calculating how much time she has until the beast returns. The fabric barely covers her bottom, and the upper half is covered with entricate white lace, decorating two cups. The bottom half that covers her torso is translucent, and the pure color accentuates Elle's creamy skintone. Following Prince Zander's directions, she kneels at the foot of the bed with her front facing the shut door.
At least eight more minutes pass before Prince Zander enters the room. Elle forces herself to not look up. The suspense wraps around her heart and squeezes like a boa constrictor. Suddenly self-conscious and extremely aware of her lack of clothing, Elle shifts uncomfortably.
"We'll go over the rules first, Elle," the prince informs her, causing her to hastily glance up with wonder. Before she can question him, her master chuckles deeply. "Don't be so surprised, pet; I know more than you think." The confession frighens Elle, making her mind race and fret about what he could possibly know about her life. "While you are mine, you will abide by three rules. If you manage to break one of the three rules, you will be punished accordingly. You will be expected to obey my command at all times. Unless instructed otherwise, you will address me as Master or Sir. And, most importantly, you will know your place." The dark undertone in his words chills Elle to the bone, and she dreads the torture her body and mind will endure.
Elle swallows her terror. "Yes, Sir," she answers respectfully, yearning to repair her reputation and alter his opinion of her.
"Good girl," he praises before circling her like a predator. "We'll begin tomorrow. I expect you in the same position tomorrow at seven." Without a farewell, he leaves Elle alone, kneeling on the concrete floor.
Assuming the prince will not be returning, Elle rises from her stance and collapses on the uncomfortable bed that will no doubt leave her stiff as a board tomorrow morning. The exhaustion that managed to build up over the course of the hectic day crashes down on her poor body, and Elle is no longer able to fight sleep.
Raucous clattering pulls Elle from her unsatisfying slumber and launches her into reality. A thin woman with dishevelled chestnut-colored hair flies in and out of the tiny room, frantically searching for something that Elle can't seem to figure out. "Get up!" the stranger shouts while mumbling curses under her breath. "Hurry! Up! Up! Up!" A soaring blouse lands on Elle's shoulder, and the groggy girl stares at the chaotic woman with confusion. "Please get up! Master Zander will be here any minute, and you aren't even near being ready," she explains, and her urgent words make Elle immidiately leave the bed. The woman shoves her into a shower cubicle, and the arctic water instantly erases any traces of sleep. Elle tries to cover her exposed body in embarrassment, but the busy girl swats her hands. "Stop that. We haven't any time for you to be shy," she reprimands. "Now wash quickly."
Too confused to argue, Elle begins to lather her body and hair with a lavender soap. After being padded down by a towel, she is thrown an entire outfit. The rushing woman urges Elle to dress, and she begins to help her. In less than three minutes, the dazed and puzzled woman is clothed and pampered to perfection, kneeling in the exact spot she was in the previous night. The stranger practically sprints out of the room after sparing a quick farewell. Elle's anxiety grows to the size of a tsunami.
"I see you can follow directions. Good morning, Elle." A deep voice makes the fearful girl's pulse quicken.