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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hustle Into Love - Chapter Fourteen, Part One

Hey all, 

I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see what happens next. This installment is a little longer than normal, so make sure you have a king size cuppa tea before you start!   Enjoy!!!

Hustle Into Love


Chapter Fourteen

Chantal couldn’t believe it.  Couldn’t comprehend what she was seeing.  Her stomach twisted, and she swallowed hard to keep the tears from escaping.  Never before in her life had she been so close to something so utterly depraved and horrifying. 
Human trafficking…white slavery…  Oh, she knew it existed, she’d read the literature, seen the warning commercials at the Macau immigration.  But to see it in person...  It made her want to scream.  It made her want to throw up.
There had to be at least a dozen silhouettes in the small room.  She couldn’t see much else—couldn’t distinguish ages or sexes, it was too dark.  But they’d been there a while.  That she could tell.  The pungent scent of urine and unwashed bodies wafted through the door.  And they were so still and lifeless.  As if all the hope had been drained out of them.  Chantal had never seen anything more wretched in her life.
There was another movement, and one of the figures moved forward, a small, dirty hand shading eyes from the glow of the dim bulb in the main room.  As it shuffled out of the gloom, the tears caught in Chantal’s throat broke free and slid down her pale cheeks.
It was a child.  A little boy no more than four or five.  Naked and half starved, he blinked like a tiny mole as he made his way out of his horrid cave and into the light.  He was Asian with the perfect doll-like features so sought after by the Chinese culture.  But unfortunately, little boys who looked like this one were also wanted by someone else.
Sexual deviants, pedophiles and child molesters.  
The child—he was no more than a baby really—reached out his hand to Chóngdé and begged in a lisping voice for something to eat.  Hearing the weak, tearful voice, Chantal moaned low in her throat.  She would have given everything she owned…every award, every jewel, every bloody cent for a single loaf of bread to give to the tiny tot.
But Chóngdé wasn’t so generous.  With a spate of angry words, she slapped the boy and pushed him back into the dank hole.  As she slammed the door shut, Chantal flinched at the child’s pained scream.
“How could you?” she whispered when the Asian woman had once more turned around.  “He’s just a baby.  He’s hungry.”
“Humph,” Chóngdé sniffed.  She picked up her glass of champagne and sipped it nonchalantly.  “I do not care.  He is only merchandise.  And he will bring me much money when he is sold.”
Sickness threatened at the knowledge of what that beautiful little boy’s future held for him.  “You bitch,” Chantal snarled, struggling to get her hands free and on Chóngdé.  Hatred for the woman welled up inside her.  She tossed out a few more insults in French.  “When I get loose I’m going to make you regret this.  I thought you were crazy, but I didn’t know you were depraved, too!  It’s wrong.  You know it is!  How can you do this?  They’re people, damn it.  Just like you and me.”
Chóngdé laughed.  “They are nothing like me.  People they may be, but poor and insignificant ones.  In fact, most will not even be missed.  Some were even sold by their families.  No one cares about them.”
Chantal stared at the battered door across from her.  Fury and sadness battled for dominance.  “I do.”
The other woman rolled her eyes.  “The great Chantal cares.  Boo Hoo.  Too bad no one will ever know.”
“This is nuts, Chóngdé,” insisted Chantal.  She worked at the ropes on her wrists.  Were they getting looser?  “You’ve got to let us go.  There’s no way this is going to work.  You’ll be caught and put in jail.  Your father will be horrified.”
“No way this will work?”  To Chantal’s surprise, Chóngdé burst into laughter.  “Do you really think this is the first time I have done this?”
Chantal went still.  “What are you talking about?”
“I thought you were intelligent,” Chóngdé gloated, “but obviously you are not.”  She walked closer.  “Did I not tell you I had built a business right under my father’s nose?  Did I not say I was in charge of everything?  Do you think it is a coincidence you are here with these people?”
Understanding swept through Chantal.  She’d been so horrified at what she’d seen, she’d forgotten completely why Chóngdé had shown it to her.  “This is the organization you were talking about?”  She stared at her enemy with wide, shocked eyes.  “The sexual exploitation of children? Prostitution?  Forced labor?  Human slavery?  This is what you’ve been doing?”
 “For three years I have bought and sold my cargo, shipping it out on my father’s own ships right under his nose.  He may think I am nothing but a weak, stupid female, but I am much more.  His men now answer to me.  I too know how to inspire loyalty.  I pay for it.”  Chóngdé smiled.  “Just like my father taught me to do.”
It was all too impossible to believe.  “You seriously think your father knows nothing about all this?”
“He is oblivious,” Chóngdé sneered.  “I have had many years of playing the innocent.  I am very good at it.  He knows only what I wish him to.”  She laughed again.  “All think my father is the most powerful man in Macau.  What would they say if they knew the truth?  That his own daughter has been playing him for a fool!”
Chantal had a difficult time believing Hui Sun knew nothing of his daughter’s actions, but even though he might play the heavy sometimes, surely a man with as much honor as he had would have put a stop to such a despicable trade? 
Could Chóngdé actually be telling the truth?
“Are you not curious?”
Chóngdé’s silky voice brought Chantal out of her thoughts.  She glared at the woman.  “Curious, no.  So disgusted and disturbed I want to knock you on your ass, oh yes!”
 The Asian woman’s eyes narrowed.  “Then I guess you do not want to know what fate awaits you.”
Fear made Chantal’s mouth dry.  She had to swallow twice before she could manage to speak nonchalantly. “I suppose you are going to sell me along with those other poor people?”
“No.”  Chóngdé’s reply was unexpected.  But before relief could push back the fear, the she went on.  “You won’t be sold with them.  You are in a different category completely.  You are the famous Chantal.  Remember?  I told you there are those foolish enough to pay great sums of money for you?”
“The merchandise you saw in the other room will be sold to several buyers overseas.  They are all destined for brothels in one of the cities.  But not you.”  Chóngdé smiled again, this time maliciously.  “I have something special…something even more degrading in mind for you.”
More degrading than a brothel?  Chantal wasn’t sure she wanted to know, but she forced herself to ask.  “And just what might that be?”
There was a long pause.  One that made Chantal even more frightened.  When Chóngdé finally spoke, the triumphant look in her eyes made Chantal’s heart stutter to a stop. 
“Once the ship arrives at its final destination, you will be sold,” the other woman gloated. “You will be stripped naked and put on a block.  Your legs will be spread wide so all can see.  Your breasts will be squeezed and measured, and your hai will be examined inside and out.  And once all are satisfied, then men from all over the world will bid on your body.  You will be auctioned off like a piece of meat.  Because that is all you will be to the one who buys you.  A piece of flesh…a body to use as he sees fit.”
If she’d been afraid before, Chóngdé’s exultant recitation of what would happen kicked Chantal’s terror into overdrive.  This couldn’t be happening.  Any minute she would wake up and it would all be a horrible dream.
“And that,” Chóngdé finished, her ebony eyes sparkling with insane joy, “will be the end of the Amber Princess.  Of the great Chantal Montgomery.  No one will ever see you again.”
There were several long moments of silence.
“Mace will find me,” Chantal whispered.  It took her a while to find the ability to put words together.  But she refused to accept the future Chóngdé had planned for her.  It was the only way she’d survive whatever came next.  “He loves me.  He’ll never stop looking, note or no note.”
“And he will never find you.”  Chóngdé stepped closer and with her free hand, grabbed a chunk of Chantal’s long hair.  She twisted, hard, and tears came to Chantal’s eyes.  “I imagine you will be bought by some Arab sheik or rich playboy who’ll keep you all to himself.  You may dance again, but it will only be for him.  He will be the audience and you—” Chóngdé trilled out a maniacal laugh,” –you will be the captive.”
She pushed away, sending Chantal sprawling back to the floor.  But her new scrapes and bruises were trifles compared to the agony in her heart.  Yet she knew she had to keep fighting.  “It won’t work, Chóngdé.”  Chantal smoothed down Mace’s bathrobe back down her exposed legs with her bound hands and glared at her enemy.  “No matter what I have to do, I’ll come back, and I swear I’ll make you pay.  If I have to swim across the entire ocean, I promise, I’ll see you in Hell.  Not only for what you’ve done to me, but for what you’ve done to that little boy and all the other’s like him.”
Chóngdé snorted out a laugh then downed the last of her drink.  “So the great Chantal really does care.  Why, I wonder?  You do not know any of them.  Why are they important?  What makes them so special?”
Chantal could only stare at the Asian woman in bemusement.  “You really don’t get it, do you?  They’re living, breathing human beings.  They have value.  Not monetarily, you greedy bitch, but inside, where it matters.  They think, they dream, they love.  How can you not understand that?”
Chóngdé’s eyes narrowed.  “I do not need to understand.  I am so far above those creatures, I can barely see them.  But they do have a value, as you said.  They will be bought.  By those who can afford to pay for them.”
“You’re a contemptible fool, Chóngdé,” Chantal retorted, her temper rising.  “You may be rich, and someday someone might actually like your chicken dancing and make you famous, but you’ll never have what I have…what these people have.”
Chóngdé tossed her head angrily.  “And what is that?”
“Self respect,” Chantal answered simply.  “Something you can’t buy and you can’t steal.  Oh, you’ve tried to.  You tried to use your daddy to buy Mace’s affections so you’d feel better about yourself, and you’re trying to steal these peoples’ future, so you’ll feel like you’re better than they are.  But it won’t work.  Not really.  No matter what you do to any of us, we’ll always be better than you.  You’ll know it in your heart.  And you’ll know you are nothing but an ugly, pathetic loser.”
Kai por!” snarled Chóngdé.  Furious, she threw the glass she’d been drinking from at Chantal.  Chantal ducked, and it crashed into the wall behind her, spraying her with broken pieces of glass.
“You think you know so much!” Chóngdé raged.  “I will laugh at your humiliation.  When I think of you standing before all those men, naked and weeping, I will laugh.”
Chantal shook her head.  She couldn’t help but fight back the only way she had left.  With words.  So she put on her famous diva attitude and looked down her nose at the smaller woman.  “You’re so ridiculously stupid, Chóngdé.  I am Chantal Montgomery.  I may have to stand naked while I’m auctioned off, but that’s nothing.  I may have to endure being…groped, but it’s not enough to truly humiliate me.  It’s only a single moment in time.  Then, like you said, I’ll be bought by a rich man.   One who knows who I am and appreciates me.  And—” she stabbed the knife in harder, all the time weeping inside for the loss of Mace and her dreams, “—I’ll live in the lap of luxury for the rest of my life.  And I’ll be laughing at you.”
She accepted Chóngdé’s slap with a shrug, keeping the snotty smile on her face.  Chantal tasted blood, but it was worth it.  She knew she’d drawn blood, too.
But the cost had been high.  Pretending to give up her life with Mace and accept her fate had almost broken her heart.  But she’d die before she showed the other woman how frightened she really was.
“You can go from one man to another so easily?” Chóngdé spit out, her eyes glistening with fury.  “Just as I thought.  You are the true whore in this room.”
Chantal only raised an eyebrow.  She had done what she set out to do.  Now all she wanted was Chóngdé to leave.  But the Asian had one last barb to throw Chantal’s way.
“You think you will have all the best,” the woman hissed.  “But you will pay for it, I promise you.  Even the other slaves will have it better than you.”
She didn’t like the new look in Chóngdé’s eyes.  “How so?” Chantal asked warily. 
“They have all been sold to brothels, but what I did not mention before is they are all very special merchandise.   Guaranteed to bring high prices.  Do you know why?”
Chantal shook her head.
“They are something you are not,” Chóngdé said, nastiness coating her voice.  “They are all virgins.”
Oh, God.  Just when she thought it couldn’t be any worse.  Those poor women.  The children.  What they would go through…  Chantal wanted to weep and scream out her rage.  She held her face impassive with a will.  “So?”
“Because they are untouched, they must stay that way.  Otherwise they are worthless, you understand.  So they are off limits.”
Chantal said nothing.  She was beginning to get a really bad feeling.
“But you,” Chóngdé went on, her tone again gloating, “you are no virgin.  You are not untouched.  And since the voyage will take several weeks, the men will get very lonely.  So I have arranged for you to help them with their loneliness.”
Bile rose in Chantal’s throat at the thought of being raped by Chóngdé’s sailors.  “You’re not serious.  You think I’m going to let that happen to me?  You really are nuts, Chóngdé.  I’ll fight them.  I won’t let them touch me.”
“You will have no choice.”  The other woman stepped back and tossed her head triumphantly.  “The men can do anything to you they want.  As many times as they want.  Over and over again, even as you plead with them to stop.  You will be nothing but a whore to the twenty-four crewmen who work this vessel.  And as long as you arrive at the auction unmarked and in one piece, I care not what might happen on the way.”
Chantal couldn’t say a word.  Her tongue was tangled in terror.
Chóngdé laughed and turning on her heel, walked to the door. “So much for the great Chantal Montgomery,” she said mockingly as she pushed the portal open. She met Chantal’s gaze, her own filled with malicious satisfaction. 
 “Well, Amber Princess?  Are you humiliated now?”


<shiver>  Chantal's predicament is even worse than I thought it would be.   How will she escape?  Or will Mace charge in on his white steed and play her knight in shining armor?  Stay tuned to find out!




Carrie said...

can't wait to see what happens I hope Chongode gets whats coming to her and that Chantal can save herself and the others with her.

Ashley L said...

Oh, how I long to slap that witch's face off! I'm imagining all the ways Chantal could drop-kick Chongde into Hell. Can't wait until Thursday for more!

Phylis said...

I think I know but I am not saying anything! lol Great chapter CJ! Course I read this Tuesday night...now I have to wait till Thursday! lol

CJ England said...

Glad you're enjoying it Carrie. I agree, Chongde needs a real attitude adjustment!

CJ England said...

LOL Drop kick her into hell, for sure, Ashley. I may steal that line! LOL

CJ England said...


Only two more days.