His Jailbird Prologue

Prologue

Nicola

14 Years Old.

“Kneel, Nicola,” my adoptive father barks his command at me.

Surveying my surroundings, I meet the eyes of each impeccably dressed man as I stand in the center of the room. They circle me like vultures, and I get the distinct feeling that I’m on display.

“What’s happening?” I mumble. A strike of fear nearly overtakes my body. I’m not stupid. I spend a lot of time getting into enough trouble to recognize it.

“I said kneel,” he snaps, and grips the perfect braid the maid wove in my hair only a few minutes ago and tugs until I fall to my knees.

Tears spring forward, but I refuse to allow them to fall. I won’t show weakness. Not here. Not for this man. Not ever.

“The bidding will start at 250,000 euros.” I stare in shock at the man who brought me to his home when I was four. The man I’ve called father since I was five. The man who taught me to ride a bike and kick high on the swings. The man who was supposed to protect me, and suddenly, a sick sort of sense is made as I watch these men raise their hands as the number climbs and climbs.

“Please don’t do this,” I beg. My sharp nails dig into the palm of my hand so I don’t cry. I refuse to show any weakness.

I’m ignored. Merely a pawn in this room of sick men looking for something I’m either too young to understand or don’t want to face.

“Sold!” he cheers, and I don’t hear the final amount because I’m trying not to vomit on the beautiful rug beneath my knees.

A rug that supported me as I played with Barbies and cars. Twirled in pretty dresses and danced until my legs felt like jelly. A carpet where I had playdates and drank tea with my mom.

Mom.

Where is she in this? Does she know he’s selling me?

As I’m gripped by the elbow and dragged out of the room, I see her, and she smiles. At first, I think it’s for me, but then Father comes out behind me and announces an astronomical number, and I’m suddenly reduced to nothing.

“Nicola, meet your new master, Santo Cardarelli.” I’m too stunned to speak as I stare at the man in front of me with his cold eyes and emotionless face.

They’ve just sold me to the devil.


 




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