Chapter Thirteen

Jeshickah strode up to the platform and stood before Caso. I let my eyes travel up her long legs, over her small round breasts, and finally to her face, which looked beautiful and cruel. The crowd stirred at the sight of her, some going even paler than they already were, if that was possible.

The vampiress must have seen me, for instantly she was standing in front of me, bending at her waist and gripped my chin in her thin, firm fingers.

"Who is this one?" she barked at Brynn.

Brynn grinned wildly. "That one is a special sale, one you might fin interest in," she cooed. "We all will feel the pain of Midnight's fall for centuries to come, no doubt."

Gabriel cut Brynn off, saying curtly, "Some of us more than others."

She smiled thinly and continued. "Barrett here is a little collateral for the damage done."

Jeshickah snarled and turned away from me, her attention once more on Caso. She spoke to Brynn, "You're a fool to think that any human can ease the pain caused by my empire's temporary downfall. Now, prepare this one for travel. I'm in quite a mood tonight. I'd like something involving spikes and wet leather."

Stepping up onto the platform, Sean nodded and placed his hands on either side of Caso. "What you wish shall be done, Mistress Jeshickah."

The ebony haired vampiress sauntered off the stage, her eyes catching on a few others in the crowd who immediately rose and left. She took a seat in the front row, Gabriel to her left.

When all was settled, Brynn gave a nod to one of her guards and I was brought up to be displayed.

"Here we have a young English glove maker. Barrett has caught the attention of a very infamous vampire, and has had the poor fortune of falling into my hands." She cast a smile at Jeshickah, who was still unconvinced. "Unbroken, never before in the trade, the bidding for the pet of Aubrey of Mayhem, a leader of the attack on Midnight, starts at eight thousand."

No hands moved.

But as I looked over the sea of faces, they all conveyed the same feelings; each one had been angered, and each one was contemplating whether or not I would be a worthwhile investment.

A hand went up.

"I'll buy him," said a man's voice.

Jeshickah let out a curt laugh.

"Something amusing?" the vampire asked of the woman in the front row.

She stood, turning to face the one who dared bark questions at her. "You can't buy him, Daryl. You're too soft. You couldn't break a dog."

Daryl, the vampire who had offered to buy me, grumbled and stood. "I can buy him if I want to, Jeshickah, and you know that! We're not in Midnight anymore. And just because some humans joined up with Mayhem, and you didn't have a handle on the situation before it occurred, *doesn't* mean you have to be a royal bitch for the next three hundred years!"

Instantly, Daryl was thrown back through the rows of buyers. His body hit the wall with enough force to shake the paintings off of their hooks.

Jeshickah hissed, "You can't buy him, Daryl, because I am." She turned to Brynn, a glare in her eyes. "Name your price, and I'll take him. Put him with Caso. Have them ready in a half an hour."

She looked down to Gabriel, who nodded. He stood and she marched out the doors.

Gabriel gave Brynn a charming smile and said, "I'm sorry we can't stay longer. Seems Daryl fancying himself a trainer has upset dear Jeshickah. Fix Barrett the way she had wanted Caso. I have a feeling she'd rather him over a serpiente right now." He sighed. "Besides, Caso and I can review his original training while Jeshickah makes a real man out of Aubrey's pet."

Brynn laughed and bowed. "As you wish, Master Gabriel. I'm only sorry to hear that Ashley has escaped you. If I come across an avian, you'll be the first to know."

Brynn nodded to the guards. I was grabbed by rough hands and heard their orders to obey in my mind.

Gabriel chuckled at Brynn's words. "You think Ashley got away from me? My dear, none of my pets ever can break free of my hold. I know exactly where she is and what she's up to. And when it no longer amuses me to let her think I don't, then I will let her know how carefully I've been watching her."

Gabriel turned away.

The red-haired woman seemed thrown off by his comments. Perhaps she was only then beginning to understand her world.

"Oh," Gabriel added, turning back. "I also have come across a hawk that I'm rather fond of. I've called him Adrian, though his people knew him as Steven. While he's not Ashley, her blood so close is a comfort. So, thank you for the offer, Brynn, but I can find my own avians when I need to."

He smiled, thinly. I believe Brynn replied to him, but by that point, I was already being dragged through the back entranceway and towards a row of crates. In them, I saw the sold slaves who hadn't been taken into the arms of their new masters directly.

Hands found my head, shoved me down, into an opened crate. I protests, struggled, but Caso's voice inside the crate threw me off for a moment and I was at last shoved in.

The serpiente stared at me with his emerald eyes.

I rubbed the back of my head, where the vampires had hit me to push me in the crate. "What did you say?" I asked, aggravated.

"She bought you, too?" Caso repeated. I had heard him the first time, but I hadn't felt like answering right then.

I nodded. "She's seems real fond of Aubrey."

"Not many are. Him and a few others from Mayhem are the reason that Midnight fell. They had some sort of operation going from inside Midnight, involving some of the upper level trainers and some second generation slaves, from what I hear."

I watched him as he rambled out the history of a slave trade I had never known existed before I was sold into it.

"You know," I started, "For a broken slave, you sure do talk a lot. Shouldn't you be silent or something? Isn't that what a good little slave does?"

Caso stared. He was silent a moment.

"Sometimes," was his reply.

"Sometimes?" I asked as I tried to adjust myself into a position that was somewhat comfortable, or at least not as painful as the one I was currently in.

Caso, looking as though he would have been comfortable even if Jeshickah had order him to be tied into a knot, answered, "A slave may forget who they were, but what they learn stays with them. I thought I might give you a little background, so that you aren't completely unaware going into this. I've been the slave to both Mistress Jeshickah and Master Gabriel, albeit briefly. But I am forever grateful that it was only a short time. Now, both of us might become as mindless as Gabriel's pet Ashley."

"Yes, who is this Ashley? Brynn and Gabriel had spoken of her."

"From what I was told when in Gabriel's. tender care. she once was a princess in line to be the Tuuli Thea, the queen of the avians." He explained as he saw my confusion, "Avians are hawk shapeshifters and the sworn enemy of my people."

"Then wouldn't Ashley being in the slave trade make you happy?"

Caso shut his eyes. "I wish Midnight upon no one. I don't even wish it upon the Tuuli Thea herself."

I nodded, understanding. If it were as bad as it seemed, and it seemed worse than any hell I could imagine, then I wasn't sure if I would wish the trade upon Margery.

After a moment of thought, I decided that, yes, yes I would wish Margery into the trade.

If she weren't already dead.