Liberty's face turned grey as Aric picked up the collar and leash.
"I'm sorry about this," he said, buckling it around her neck, "but pets without collars are food for anyone who wants.
"Even when we get back to Spokane, you need to make sure you have this on when you're not in my room or presence," he explained, making sure the leather band wasn't too tight.
Liberty nodded, trying to keep from panicking.
It wasn't that she was actually scared, Aric had done nothing to make her afraid of him. It was the thought of leaving the safety and security of the lodge that bothered her.
Once they left and returned to Spokane, everyone would see that she hadn't made it. People would know, and soon enough her mother would know her fate.
"Are you ready?" Aric asked, picking up his briefcase.
"Not really," she laughed, looking into his pale blue eyes.
"I'm sorry," he said, brushing dark hair out of her face, "but I have to get back, and you have to go with me."
"I know," Liberty nodded, accepting the truth of what he was saying.
"Besides," Aric added, a smile spreading across his face, "I promised we'd get you some new clothes."
Looking down Liberty cringed, seeing the bright pink sweatsuit glowing back at her.
"Yeah," she laughed, "it would be nice not to glow in the dark."
"It is bright," he acknowledged, picking up the end of the leash.
As they walked through the lodge, Aric saw that the slaves had been hard at work for hours, most of the furniture was already covered with dutch sheets. In hours the building would look like it hadn't been inhabited in years.
Stepping out into the frigged evening, Aric and Liberty waited patiently for his car to be brought to them.
With a roar, a sleek black Mustang pulled up, a human slave exiting and holding the door for him.
"Come on," he said, pointing Liberty towards the passenger door.
Reluctantly, knowing there was no real choice, she opened the door and slid into the leather covered seat.
As they drove through the night, Liberty sat silent watching the dark forest speed by wondering what her future held, unaware that Aric's mind was occupied on the same subject.
In his briefcase he had a copy of her file, and he knew that she was already twenty-four. In four years he'd have to either send her to the clinic for breeding or to the blood bank.
Looking at her through the periphery of his vision, Aric wondered who she was. The information they had on her said she'd grown up in Spokane, she and her mom had worked as laborers in the power plant. Her father had died when she was ten in an accident at the same plant.
Since then, she and her mom had lived quietly, as most human's did. They worked, went home, slept, and repeated the same routine daily.
Seeing a tear roll down her cheek, Aric reached out and placed his hand on her knee to offer comfort.