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“Full name and age.”

The question is so sudden, barked out like an order that I don’t know what to say at first. “Excuse me?”

The black-clad man sitting behind the desk glowers at me. Obviously, I’m wasting his time. “Your full name and age.”

“Oh. Um, Emma York. I’m nineteen.”

“Can you prove that?”

I fumble through my purse to find my driver’s license. Of course, they would want proof. Not that what they’re doing here is exactly legal, but it would be worse if anyone found out they were using underage girls.

“Here you go.” I slide the card across the desk and try to smile. I’m actually trying to smile through what has to be the craziest situation I’ve ever been through. Even now, with desperation forcing me to do the unthinkable, I want to be the good girl. The nice girl.

My card receives nothing more than a cursory glance before he shoves it back. “Very well. Wait in the first room to my left.” He gestures over his shoulder with a pen, indicating a dark hallway behind him. Is that it? They don’t want to know anything else?

Then again, I already presented a note from my gynecologist. I was given the option of going to my own doctor or being checked out by somebody here at the auction house. No way was I letting a stranger examine me. It’s bad enough I have to go through any of this in the first place.

I wish there wasn’t time to sit in this little room all by myself. There’s nothing but a pair of benches stretching across two of the four walls and a simple light fixture in the center of the ceiling. It isn’t much better than a jail cell. I take a seat, my clutch between my knees. I can’t help but tug at the hem of my dress, which only covers about half of my thighs—if that.

Now I have nothing but time to think. There’s not even anybody to talk to. I wish my friend Olivia had come with me so I could at least lean on her a little, but she’s not willing to go this far. “I might be eating ramen every day to survive, but I still have my standards.”

It sort of rubbed me the wrong way at the time, like she was judging me, but I get it. Everybody has a line they don’t want to cross.

Before now, I didn’t know where my line was. Now I do. It sits right between having an apartment and having nowhere to live. Between going to school and having no education. Between eating and starving.

I’ve already been through the other options—which are none. There’s nothing else I can do to make the money I need but allow my virginity to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

It’s a good thing my parents aren’t alive to see this.

Then again, I might not have to go to this trouble if they were. I look up at the ceiling, almost expecting to see them glaring down at me in heartbreak and disapproval. Their good little girl, the one who always came home with gold stars on her projects and attended Sunday school faithfully. I’m about to put myself up for auction to make the money I need to pay for tuition, books, and rent.

Is it wrong that I don’t feel too bad about it? Not morally, anyway. I’m nervous as hell and wondering how I’m supposed to pretend to be into having sex with a total stranger.

Something tells me they won’t care if I’m into it or not. I might be a virgin, but I’m not completely naïve. The sort of men who come here and place bids on girls aren’t the kind who care whether their partner enjoys herself.

My heart jumps when the door opens, but it’s only the arrival of another pair of girls. They look around my age, with long, dark waves in contrast to my straight blond locks. I exchange a look with both of them, nodding, but none of us says a word. What do you say in a situation like this? We all know why we’re here, and I’m sure it’s for the same reason. We need our sixty percent of the eventual winning bid.

I wonder how they found out about this place. I want to ask, but the way they both sit with their eyes downcast, I don’t know that they’re in the mood for conversation. I learned about it after searching online for jobs. I’d been considering selling socks and underwear online. Some girls make a lot of money doing that, packaging up their panties, stockings, and whatever and charging to ship them. Until recently, I would have considered something like that horrifying and demeaning. Now, I’m not sure if I made the right choice by not going through with the idea and creating an account on one of the sites that facilitates the sales.

But this opportunity was too good to pass up. Instead of spending weeks or even months sending out packages and building up a client base, I can make all the money I need at once. When I read in the listing that I could make up to fifty grand, I had to check it out even if it seemed too good to be true.

Instead of a spammy response when I reached out via email, I got a phone call within minutes of responding to the ad. They put me through a brief interview before explaining the situation. It’s pretty simple: virgins are auctioned off to wealthy men. They told me the highest bid they’ve ever received was for a hundred thousand, though their average winning bid is closer to fifty thousand. Even if I only get that much, it would still mean thirty-six grand in my pocket.

How could I say no?

I still don’t want to, even with my body trembling the way it is. Another girl comes in, and another. By the time ten o’clock rolls around, there are a dozen of us. We’re all roughly the same body type: slim, nice tits, and firm asses. But we run the gamut when it comes to skin color, hair, and eyes. Something for every taste, I guess.

The man from the front desk opens the door. “All right, all of you. We’re about to get started. There are some ground rules we need to get straight before you go out there. You’ll be called in one at a time. I’ll lead you in, and you’ll stand on the auction block. You will not say a word at any time. Do you understand?”

We all nod in unison.

“You will not make eye contact with any men here to place bids. Do you understand?” Once again, we nod.

“And you will not refuse the bidder who wins you. Do you understand?” He holds up a clipboard with what looks like a contract attached. “You’ll be asked to sign this before stepping onto the auction block.”