The tick-tock of the clock in the distance signals that a second has gone by.

Two seconds.


I deliberate internally, my breaths growing shallower with each rhythmic sound as his loaded question hangs heavily in the air and adds to the already present, overbearing tension between us.

I force myself to think in spite of the web of panic weaving itself inside every inch of my trembling body, weighing my options carefully.

– One: Endure utter humiliation as a stranger cleans up my bodily fluids from under me while I watch, confined to a chair like a depraved prisoner.

– Two: Get a third of the money promised to me for being here taken away before I’ve even begun.


“I don’t have all night, Ramona,” Frost’s voice catapults me out of my jumbled thoughts, startling me with its depth. My heart pounds even faster against the urgency his words evoke. I blink rapidly, hating how anxious he’s making me.

Feeling lightheaded all over again, I take the deepest, most strained breath I ever have, my chest heaving with the effort. With gritted teeth, I force my lips to part against the tension that’s keeping them taut, my eyes on anything but his.

“Option three,” I say breathlessly, the two simple words leaving me in a raspy, reluctant whisper. I swallow hard, my throat working against a colossal mass that seems to have lodged itself in it permanently, as if the action will pacify the unease I feel about what I just said.

About the choice I just made.

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