Hi, this is the story that is between "Mustang Madness" and "A circle of Woman"...it's the prologue and I'm still working on the main story itself. Hope you enjoy the start of it.

Summer, Washington State

She lay in the bed with her face pressed against the pillow, looking out into the center of the room that had become her prison. It had been elegant in its design and furnished with items that had to come from an exclusive sales room. He had spared no expense in gilding her cage for her.

A spacious bedroom that adjoined a bathroom, which boasted an elaborate shower with three adjustable water jets and walls of the finest tile, she had seen this kind of décor in catalogs. A closet filled with the clothes that he wanted her to wear for him, when he wanted her to wear them and a table with two chairs where she ate her meals on the days when she felt like eating.

Then the bed itself, not particularly comfortable but large enough for his nightly visits when he had returned from his business trips…the sheets had been changed but a hint of his cologne still lingered from some place. Maybe inside her own imagination.

It was like any opulent bedroom that defined many a household in even the wealthier neighborhoods in the city where she had lived before being brought here.

Except for one detail, a door that was locked and bolted shut from the outside with a window peeking inside where she lived.

Not to mention two windows that were covered in bars, so she could see just enough outside of her prison to know that escaping from the compound would be futile because the wilderness that surrounded the building, the thick canopy of trees, the rugged walls of rock which surely encased the rushing water she could hear that sounded like a river.

A means of escape perhaps lingering in her mind on the nights she lay in bed either alone or with him next to her, gazing at her before he left her for the night. But on this day Andre hadn't shown up and yet a woman along with the younger one named Elena had entered into the room telling her to get dressed.

She had been given her usual mid-day meal, not much to eat just soup but she had eaten it and drank the juice and soon after, the waves of dizziness hit. Then had come the wardrobe that she was to wear that night and the older woman helped dress her.

Silky lace that molded to her body in all the places that he liked, she thought slipping it on over her skin. She blinked her eyes as her vision had blurred and Elena's face came into view.

"Are you feeling okay miss?"

She didn't answer in a way that would make them happy and the woman had begun fussing with her hair. Not that she paid attention because she had already left for that other place.

Then a guard opened the door and stuck his head inside to look at the three of them. He looked uncomfortable.

"Is she ready yet?"

The woman looked up sharply.

"She'll be ready in a few minutes…he can wait."

The guard shook his head.

"This one can't…he's been waiting for her for a while now."

The woman shook her head and looked back at him.

"Okay she'll be ready soon…it will be worth it."

The guard didn't look convinced but he left them. The woman looked at C.J. to see if she had been paying attention but the younger woman was gone someplace else, while her body was being prepared for him.

She had journeyed to the garden where she sat listening to the crickets sing, miles away from the men who would hurt her.

Oktoberfest in Germany

Clarissa had grown restless at the party, partly fueled by the adrenalin generated by her run in with the thief. She stroked Matt's face while he finished his Scotch.

"Let's head on back," she said, "I know you're leaving in the morning but it's still dark and we've got plenty of time to say goodbye."

He nodded and they headed towards the exit of the party which still was in full swing. They ran into the businessman at the gate and stopped to say goodbye.

"Thanks so much for what you did," Clarissa said, "I'll never forget it."

The man smiled.

"It's nothing…just pass it along for someone else."

"That's such a nice thought…I'll do that, thanks."

Matt shook the man's hand and reached into his pocket for his wallet to hand him a business card.

"The name's Matt Houston," he said, "I'm on the road now but give me a call and I'll return it when I get back to L.A."

The man looked at the card and then reached to retrieve his own wallet to pull out his business card.

"I'm Stefan Kostas," he said, "but you can call me Stefan and I'll look forward into getting in touch with you in a couple months or so."

Matt smiled and started to leave. Clarissa walked with him for a few moments until they reached the end of the street. She bit her lip.

"I forgot something," she said, "I'll be right back."

"I'll be waiting here…"

He watched her walk quickly back and disappear once again into the party.

Clarissa walked by and felt him grab her arm to stop her.

"I thought you left…"

She stared up at him and smiled.

"I just wanted to tell you that you send one of your flunkies like that again and I'll walk."

He chuckled and stroked her arm, not as idly as it appeared.

"You know the price that you'll pay if you betray me Sasha," he said, "I'm not a forgiving man."

Her hand shook as she pulled her arm away.

"Why did we do all this," she asked, "Matt Houston is a man who has his own problems keeping him from stopping you from finding the same woman he is running away from."

Stefan sighed.

"I paid good money for that woman to be the latest in my collection," he said, "She's quite a prize indeed and Duval left her in the hands of incompetents. He got too involved with this piece of property and that will be his downfall."

"No one's seen her since," she said, "If she doesn't want to be found with a man like Matt to train her how to hide…he can send an army of bounty hunters and they won't find her."

"I will find her before Duval does and then I will take care of him," Stefan said, "There's only rule for one capo in this operation and it's going to be me."

Sasha looked up at him and knew he was right. Whatever Stefan wanted, he usually got in spades. She just shook her head at him, both in awe and fear of the man who had plucked her out of a small village in Italy and had molded her into one of his top procurers of merchandise. Her easy going manner and delicate style of dealing with people made her marks trust her all the time she led them into her snare until it became too late.

She knew she had become the best, having been groomed by the woman who had done that to her back when she had been foolish and weak. When it became time to slip into her mentor's position, she did it easily enough. A slice to the woman's throat when she least expected it and Sasha got her promotion.

But Matt, he had shaken her resolve in a matter of days, no better he did leave and they went their separate ways.

"You'd better head on back to him before he suspects anything."

She looked directly at him.

"He won't…and I'll be back to the London office in two days…"

With that, she turned and walked down through the gate to rejoin Matt.