“FIVE HUNDRED gold coins for a night with your promised wife,” the Prince of Nivarrin offered, as he stared at me with his famished eyes.
It started with a bid. I wasn’t even married to the Duke of Nivarrin yet and they were already debating whose bed I was going to share that night. My fiancé, Duke Mighell Nicolet of Jehan wasn’t impressed by the offer although I knew he ached for the money. He would have sold my organs in the blackmarket if he thought he could get more than what he could get by selling my maidenhood. I was lucky, I was good at lying. They thought I was a virgin and that would drive up my price. Perhaps, he would keep me alive for longer if he could sell me like a whore to more Nivarrian royalty.
“Your Highness, she is the only daughter of that witch Lady Lydia Rayer Valniere. Perhaps her maidenhood is worth a little more than a common whore.”
Yes, I thought. And my father is Gabriel Moraru Balan of Ignias. Surely, he would be shocked to know these men were trading me like cattle. On second thought, perhaps he would demand a cut of my selling price. He had always used me like a whore to achieve his goals. I wasn’t from this world of kings and dukes originally. I was once a girl who went to college, had friends, had a life. Now, I was to be sold as a slave to these men and my only thought was for survival.
“Oh, so she’s the princess of whores?” The Prince said with a laugh as he reached out and grabbed me by the chin. He lifted my eyes to his. I noticed his eyes were black as coal. He reached into my inner thigh and gave me a painful squeeze. “She has strange eyes, almost entirely devoid of color.”
“Yes, beautiful and frightening,” my fiancée said. “Her father has left her in my company and she knows what the rules are. One night with your grace would be a great honor.”
I couldn’t help but to allow the hatred to show in my eyes, in my clenched jaw and fists. My hands were ice cold but I struggled to calm myself. I didn’t think they knew who I was, I am Melody Balan and I could kill every single aristocrat in their royal court with the power of my will. But I knew if I did that, they would strike back at my city, my country, and my family. I could do nothing but smile and nod at their deal. I had to remind myself to play the part of the sweet and poised virgin maiden.
“Then it is settled,” the Prince said as he patted me on the cheek. “She will be mine for the night and perhaps, the next if it pleases me.”
Prince Renfry snapped his fingers and two of his guards came and took me by the arms. They led me to a small hallway at the back of the palace and left me there to bathe and prepare myself for the royal bed. I knew there was no use resisting so I undressed myself and allowed the handmaidens to lead me into the Roman style bathes which were strewn with rose petals.
“To be bed by the first-born prince is a great honor,” the maid told me as she started oiling my hair with lavender oil. I used my cupped hands to wash my naked body with the rose scented water but I couldn’t help but to wonder if this was what they told all the virginal girls who entered these doors.
“How many girls is he granting that honor to tonight?” I asked with only a small amount of sarcasm in my voice.
“You are the sixth,” the maid whispered in a fearful voice. “Don’t ask such questions or they willwhip you.”
By the way the maid was speaking, I got the feeling she was whipped often. I continued to wash myself, trying not to think of what was about to happen. The rose petals and candles floated peacefully in the warm scented waters.
“What’s your name?” I asked her as she started to braid my long black hair.
“Zuria,” she whispered. “Slaves have no name here. I was not born here. Neither were you, correct?”
I nodded. Zuria gently eased my braided hair over my shoulder and started to rub her oils on my back.
“He is cruel at first but many girls grow to love him. He always sends them away, eventually. Perhaps it will be different with you.”
------Warning: This book contains mature themes in the first six chapters. To skip these scenes go to Chapter 7.