Four…five, six, seven, eight…months.
That only accounts for the time I’ve been here. I put the makeshift mattress back in its place, covering the tick marks etched into the rotting floorboards. The marks don’t count the previous four months at another place or the seven months at another. One year and seven months. It took me more than nine months to figure out I was actually two weeks off. Those two weeks were spent in a daze as I healed in the darkness, unable to track the time. Meals weren’t delivered with any sense of regularity so keeping time was nearly impossible.
I remember it like it was yesterday, though. It was winter break, just after New Year’s in New York City, the place I called home my entire life. My father was once a respected New York City Police Detective. I snort. Some respected detective he was when he went and got himself killed. It was later on that I learned my kidnapping was retaliation toward my father. It only worked as long as those who had taken me believed my father gave a rat’s ass about me. As the months progressed, his loyalty to the force proved to be nothing but a bunch of lies and misplaced trust. I’ve since been arrested three times, and not one person in my father’s old squad seemed to look at me twice. All those supposed ‘cop’ friends haven’t even bothered looking for me. It’s been over a year since I was ripped from the streets that were my peaceful life. I was barely sixteen.
I flip open the cheap burner phone, checking the date.
“Happy eighteenth birthday, Livia,” I whisper to myself. I can’t even smile because who the fuck cares. My ‘driver’s license’ says I’m twenty-two and my birthday was three months ago.
“Sorcha.” Shit. I close the phone and tuck it back into my tiny purse, but not before powering it off. If they find out my phone was on inside the house, they’ll lock me away in the basement. But not before making sure I’m punished for my actions.
“What?” I snap back, hoping my delayed response doesn’t catch unwanted attention. Sorcha is my street name, though it’s one of several I’ve had over the last almost two years. It is one of my favorites.
The door that separates my area from the rest of the house flies open and beyond it is the one they call Fat Tony. He’s more of a Slob Tony with his greasy hair, a dirty white t-shirt underneath some fucked up tropical looking piece of shit that hangs open. The evidence of too many beers pushes his slacks to capacity. I don’t look at him too long before turning my eyes toward the floor. It doesn’t matter that I have a photographic memory and I already know what they look like. They won’t care and won’t appreciate me staring for too long. “You’re up,” the slob declares.
I sigh before plastering on a fake smile and looking up at him, pretending to be uninterested isn’t an option. Appearing overly interested raises too many suspicions about my motive for being on duty tonight. If I argue with him, or show him how I feel, I’ll get my head pistol-whipped and my ass handed over to one of Fat ‘Slob’ Tony’s goons. “Where’m I goin'?” My Brooklyn accent is strong, my New York attitude even stronger.
“Deets will take you.”
I get off the makeshift mattress of folded blankets and straighten my blue sequined halter top mini dress. I slide my feet into the matching pumps before giving myself one last look in the mirror. I got ready over an hour ago, nothing else to do. How anyone finds any of us attractive is beyond me. We’re nothing but skin stretched tight over bones, with hollow cheeks and eyes too big for our faces because food is a luxury that the slob refuses to indulge in. What food we eat is the food we buy with what little money we’re given. I notice the bruise under my eye is fading, but even covered by makeup it’s still visible. Nothing more I can do about it. My dark hair looks strung out and stringy, giving the perfect illusion of a drug addicted prostitute. Just the way they like me. The bruise around my eye was from my big mouth getting the better of me.
I’ve never touched a drug in my life. Partaking in all things drug related means I lose what little grip I have left on who I am, where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. Though I still haven’t figured that all out.
Each night I walk out of this shithole with the confidence that tonight is the night. Tonight is the night I’m going to get away, but each night I come crawling back here like an idiot.
I rub the back of my neck as a gentle reminder to myself that I’m tagged, like a dog. If I run, they’ll hunt me down, beat me, rape me and maybe, if I’m lucky, they’ll kill me.
It’s pretty pathetic that I’ve welcomed the inevitable prostitution or solicitation arrest. It’s a nice little reprieve from coming back to this shithole. At least there I get hot food and an actual mattress to sleep on, even if it’s just for a night. I’ve nailed drunken and drugged up, which usually means they’re forced to keep me overnight until I sober up.
The slob tosses me out the door and right into Deets’s waiting paws. “Let’s go, sweetheart.” The pet name sends a chill up my spine as he grabs my arm and forcibly drags me toward the waiting black Escalade.
A long time ago they quit hooding me when they took me places because I keep coming back. I’ve somehow managed to gain their trust. Unlike the other girls who were dumb enough to run away the moment they got the chance, I’ve always returned. I learned long ago I needed to mind my p’s and q’s so they’d loosen the reins on me, if only for a little while. And my persistence has paid off. I’m usually taken to the location, told what room I’m supposed to go into and then left there until I call for my pick-up. Usually an hour or two later.
Deets roughly shoves me into the backseat of the Escalade and someone else, Vinnie, or some shit like that, is waiting in the driver’s seat. See, no one in the organization wants to handle the trafficked girls voluntarily. But when they piss off the big boss, they get sent here for pussy control.
I’m one of nine girls in the house currently. It’s a lot for this bunch of idiots, though not uncommon in the organization. The big guns usually keep this house smaller, around four or five girls, but the slob has gotten careless and maybe even a little reckless. The smaller numbers draw a lot less attention, but nope, they’re getting greedy or they’re getting desperate. Or, I shiver at the thought, they’re getting ready to ship off the girls.