A car passed a viaduct at a fast speed. The flickering lights shone on the handwriting on a note in a girl's hand.
She was in the back seat of a taxi. The note said, "11 o'clock in the evening. Room 8888, 28th floor of Hilton Hotel."
A teardrop fell on the note, the wet spot blooming underneath it. She hurriedly wiped her tears away but the sadness and bitterness remained in her heart. Her shoulders shook as she cried silently.
"Miss, are you alright?" The taxi driver noticed her. He must be thinking how strange she was, wearing a fancy looking dress but looking like a spooked child. She tightened her hold on the note. It took her a while to even tell the driver the name of the hotel she was going to, as if she were a foreign tourist.
"I'm fine. It's just… my feet hurt," Nina Bai stammered in reply. She kept on wiping her tears as she pressed the already crumpled note on her knees.
It was Nina's first time wearing such high heels. Her feet were killing her but the fear for what was about to happen was even more painful.
"Remember, don't piss him off. He has a bad temper but he's very generous. He's the key to raising money for your younger brother's operation. You know how difficult it is to find a matching kidney donor. If you don't hand in the money on time, the hospital will not be able to secure the kidney. Don't expect to be so lucky the next time around."
Daisy's words rang in Nina's mind. Daisy was also in the hospital for uremia. But unlike Nina, Daisy wasn't lacking in money. She only had to wait for a matching kidney donor to appear. Leon, Nina's younger brother, already missed one kidney donor because they didn't have enough money. They managed to find another donor for him but Nina didn't have enough money to cover for the expenses. This time, Daisy told Nina she had to do everything to secure that kidney for Leon - including selling herself.
Of course, Nina was against it at first. But after looking at her younger brother's swollen face and limbs, she knew she had to make a difficult decision.
"I'm not forcing you to do something against your will. All the girls I introduced to the customers made the decisions themselves. I don't want to destroy what's left of your innocence. But… what can we do? This is how society works now. And you two don't have parents anymore. How else can you save Leon? To be honest, if it weren't for your pretty face, I wouldn't even of given you this suggestion. But think about it. You can get three hundred thousand overnight. There are few women who earned this much this quickly! And very few men could afford this payment, too. Little girl, this man I'm introducing you to is not an ordinary person. You can't wear these clothes to meet him. But don't worry. I'll get you some fancy outfit you can wear. Tsk, tsk. It's a good thing you're already eighteen years old."
Daisy's words continued to ring in Nina's mind. She crumpled the note in her hand and said to herself, "You can do it, Nina. Do it for your younger brother. It's just for one night. You can get through this. Just choke down the pain and bear it."
Creak… Nina pitched forward as the sound of brakes pierced her ears. She looked up just in time to see the commotion.
Bang! Clap! The car made a half turn after the impact. Nina's head hit the seat in front of her.
Fortunately, the car skidded to a stop. She also had the foresight to fasten the seatbelt before the trip. Otherwise… it would have been horrible. Still, the impact of hitting her head on the seat hurt a lot. She covered her forehead with her hand and took a peek at the driver. "Sir, are you alright?"
The driver shook his head to clear his mind. He muttered that he was fine before he opened his door to check the hit on his car. It turned out they bumped into a beautiful sports car. Nina didn't know much about cars but she could see how expensive the other car looked. From her seat, she could see the taxi driver's face pale.
Nina didn't have time to wait for the taxi driver to sort out his matters. She hurriedly opened the car door and got off. She only had half an hour to get to the hotel.
"Sir, here's my fare. I have something really urgent to deal with so I can't stay here with you…" Nina handed the taxi driver some bills just in time to see a very handsome man step off the sports car. He was tall and slim, with his long hair framing his sculpted face. As soon as Nina's eyes found his, all thoughts flew out of her head. "Bobby Teng," she whispered in recognition.
Bobby Teng was everywhere. He was on the TV, magazine, and even on the news. Nina never imagined encountering people like Bobby on the streets like this. For her, they existed on a different plane than her world. He looked more handsome and stunning in real life.
"I don't have time to talk nonsense with you. Here's the card of my lawyer. You can wait for him here." Bobby Teng handed the taxi driver a thin, expensive-looking business card. After, he glanced at Nina who was still gaping at him and had to take another glance. His eyes looked straight into hers in awestruck silence.
Nina lowered her head at his stare. The media prince was looking at her while she was wearing such a revealing dress. She felt her face burn in shame. To her surprise, Bobby Teng walked closer to her. He tilted her face up with cold fingers under her chin.
His eyes were the first thing she saw. His piercing grey pupils betrayed his mixed blood. 'Oh my God.' Nina felt like she was going to faint.
"What's your name?" he asked in a deep and gruff voice. Bobby Teng stared at Nina with a decidedly bored expression on his face.
"What?" Nina muttered. Her ears were filled with her own heartbeat. She could only see Bobby Teng's lips move but she couldn't hear what he was saying.
His fingers pinched her chin a little harder. She moaned in pain before she heard Bobby ask again, "What's your name?"
"Nina… Nina Bai."
The man looked her up and down before quickly taking her hand. "Get in the car!" Then to her surprise, Bobby Teng dragged her to his car.
"Ah?" After two steps, Nina's mind finally caught up to what was happening. She said hastily, "Why should I get into your car? I have somewhere to be."
The man stopped and looked back at her. He grabbed the note from her hand and asked, "Hilton Hotel?"
Nina lowered her head in shame.
"What difference would it make if you give yourself to someone else? I'll match whatever he will pay you!" Bobby continued to drag Nina to his car.
"No!" Nina protested. She didn't know what kind of man Bobby Teng was, but she also knew enough about him. She knew he could pay well. But she was doing this shameful choice because she needed to earn three hundred thousand quickly.
"What did you say?" Bobby Teng looked back again with a cold expression on his face. "No one could say no to me. Listen: tonight, you belong with me. You're mine."
They were conveniently by his car then. He only needed to give her a slight push to get her into his car. He got in and closed the door before he drove away with her. They left the scene with his headlights disappearing in the horizon.