I was glad that Ben never left the ballroom. I managed to catch my breath as I held onto the bodice of the dress. The halls of the mansion were empty. Everyone was in the dining room. I wanted to run for the door, but I knew I had no way of getting off this island.
I jumped when the door of the ballroom door opened. Candace slipped past the door. I shook my head and held up my hand.
“Listen, I don’t want to talk,” I said.
“I’m not here to talk to you,” she said. “I already tried that.”
She walked past me and headed down the hall. I doubted she would be heading to the dining room, but I don’t know where else she would be going.
I went back into the ballroom. All of the subjects were off of their platforms and mingling amongst each other. I squinted as I tried to find my way back to my platform. I spotted Ben only because he was the only one not wearing a shirt. He was sitting on the platform with his elbows on his knees. I sat next to him. He turned to look at me with a smirk. I raised an eyebrow at how out of place it looked.
“Are you feeling better?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said.
He reached out and cupped my face running his thumb along my cheek. His smirk softened into a smile.
“I love you.” He said it so quietly that only I heard. He cleared his throat before speaking louder. “It’s all going to be okay.”
The door to the ballroom opened, and I ripped Ben’s hand off of my face. I stood and smoothed out my skirt. Leta entered, and the rest of the subjects continued to talk. She weaved her way through the crowd and over to us.
Leta always had a smile plastered on her face, but now it was replaced with a solemn expression.
“Benjamin and Diana, I need you to come with me,” she said.
“Where are we going?” Ben asked.
“Dr. Alexander would like to talk to you,” she said. “Dr. Sweeney and Dr. Phillips are already there.”
The dress seemed to be crushing my ribs again and was stealing my breath.
This was it.
Oliver was going to sell me.
Ben put his hand on my shoulder and nodded. We followed behind Leta as she lead us through the house. We stayed silent, and only the sounds of Leta’s sandals clicking on the floor filled the air. She stopped outside a large mahogany door. She knocked before peeking in. She opened the door wider.
Gregory was sitting behind a heavy wooden desk that was engraved with detail. Candace was sitting on the desk. Her legs were crossed and her body was angled toward Gregory. Oliver and Bethany were standing across from them.
“Thank you, Leta,” Gregory said. “You may leave.”
Leta bowed before exiting the office. I let out a shaky breath and glanced over to Ben.
“Now, Oliver,” Gregory said. ” I want to start by saying that I am absolutely amazed by Diana. You have achieved something that I did not think I would ever see.”
“Thank you, sir,” Oliver said.
“However, something has come to my attention,” he said. “I need to trust my subjects, and I have a feeling that I cannot trust Diana.”
Gregory turned his computer screen around to face us. Before I could see anything I heard the sound of moaning. His computer screen was large enough for me to see the video clearly. I was naked and on top of Ben as he held onto my hips.
There were cameras in our rooms. They can see everything that Ben and I did last night.
The heat rushed up to my cheeks. I buried my face in my hands. I couldn’t look at Oliver.
“I’m sorry,” Oliver said. His voice wavered. “I had no idea this was going on.”
“I warned you about how close they seemed,” Gregory said. “Don’t worry though, Oliver. Your hard work will not be written off because of Diana’s foolish mistake. You are accepted, but I do not want to purchase her.”
I wished I could feel relieved, but the video was still playing and I cringed at hearing our mixture of moans.
“I’m so sorry for disappointing you,” Oliver said.
“Diana is much too new for this,” Gregory said. “I did expect much more from Ben.”
“I’m so sorry, sir,” Ben said. “I wasn’t thinking.”
“We’ll be leaving tonight,” Bethany said. “Please, can we keep this amongst ourselves?”
“You may go if you wish,” he said. “I can’t wait to see what you bring me next year.”
“I can’t wait either,” Oliver said.
“Thank you, Dr. Alexander,” Bethany said.
I peered up from my hands to see Bethany pulling Oliver out of the office. Candace was shaking her head. Ben grabbed the crook of my elbow and brought me out into the hallway.
Bethany stormed down the hall. Oliver hurried to keep up with her pace.
“Beth, it’s alright,” he said.
She spun around on her heels. I didn’t realize she was carrying a glass of champagne until she threw it at Oliver. He ducked, and the glass shattered against the wall. Bethany’s face was red and her jaw was clenched.
“Are you kidding me?” she said. “This is not alright!”
“You’re right,” he said. “Ben took advantage of Diana.”
“No, he did not,” she said. “That little fucking whore of yours threw herself at him.”
Oliver grabbed Bethany’s shoulders. She tried to shake him off, but he tightened his grip.
“Don’t call her that,” Oliver said.
“You’re sick, Oliver,” she said as she continued to fight against his grip. “You’re jealous of Ben. You just wish you could have done that to Diana. That’s why you didn’t want to sell her.”
Oliver turned and threw Bethany into the wall. She tumbled to the floor. I looked around and was surprised that no one came out after hearing their screaming. Gregory must have cameras and he must be watching this. Ben grabbed my arm and pulled me forward.
“We’ll go pack,” Ben said.
“No,” Oliver said. “I don’t want you anywhere near her.”
Oliver grabbed my other arm and pulled me away from Ben. He looked down at Bethany. Her face was still red and her chest was heaving.
“Beth, I suggest you get Ben and yourself packed up,” he said. “We’ll be leaving this island in an hour.”
Oliver pulled me down the hall. I tripped over my skirt, but Oliver grabbed my other arm to keep me on my feet. I looked over my shoulder to see Ben helping Bethany off of the floor. She threw her arms around Ben and cried into his chest.
I stumbled as I tried to keep up with Oliver’s pace while wearing this dress. He quickly had me in the locked wing and threw me into my room. He pulled my suitcase out of the closet and started filling it with clothes. He tossed one of the dresses at me.
“Go get changed,” he told me.
I nodded my head and turned for the bathroom.
“Wait, Diana,” he said.
Before I could turn, Oliver was ripping the ribbon out of the back of my corset. I gritted my teeth as he pulled out the collection of bobby pins holding my hair up. The curls Candace made this morning fell down around my shoulders.
“There, now go change,” he said.
I held onto the bodice of the dress and went into the bathroom. I changed into a sundress. I stepped out of the bathroom, and Oliver snatched the dress out of my hands. He shoved it into the suitcase before zipping it up. I saw my jacket and shoes sitting on the bed. I slipped them on, and the tension I was carrying eased up a bit. I was already surrounded by some familiarity of home.
“Come on,” he said.
I followed behind him as he walked to the front foyer. Ben was already standing next to his suitcase. I could hear the faint sound of music coming from the ballroom.
“Wait down here,” Oliver said. “Stay away from each other.”
We waited as we watched Oliver ascend one of the staircases. When Oliver was out of sight, I ran over to Ben. I wrapped my arms around his neck and my lips spread into a smile.
“We’re going to get out of here,” I said.
“We are,” Ben said. He kissed the side of my temple. “I love this, but we have to be careful.”
I pulled away from Ben. He grabbed my chin and pulled me in for a kiss before letting go. I took a few steps back.
A few minutes passed before we could hear footsteps. Bethany was walking down the steps. She had on a pair of jeans and a sweater. Her makeup was wiped off and her hair was tied back. Oliver was behind her holding both of their suitcases. She scoffed when she saw us.
“You left them alone together?” she asked. “Honestly, Oliver.”
“What did you want me to do?” he asked.
“I just want you to stop being an idiot.”
Oliver rolled his eyes as he walked by us. Malik was waiting outside with a car for us. He put our bags into the trunk as Bethany got into the passenger seat. Oliver, Ben, and I got into the backseat. I was squished in between them. Oliver pulled my glasses out of his pocket.
We all sat in silence as Malik drove us away from the house.