The first time Carlós tried to sell me, I was ten. He was bargaining with another Rom caravan, trading horses for their fine textiles and wine. He offered them "a young girl to feed and groom the horses." As if he had ever let me near them, other than sleeping among the foals with Lía when I was young! When the traders saw me, they scoffed, saying I was no Rom girl and telling Carlós they'd take the horses but not me.
Dafíd and Lía assured me of their love over and over again that night, not understanding that the refusal hurt me more than Carlós' attempt. I'd always known he hated me. Now, for the first time, I'd begun to realize that I had no future among the Rom. Dafíd was nineteen and hotheaded, ready to challenge Carlós for leadership, but Lía begged him to stay calm. Carlós was well loved and still strong, easily able to overpower Dafíd and whatever followers he might find. Dafíd and Lía might not stand for losing me, but I made doubly sure to stay clear of Carlós.
I withdrew more and more into myself, staying in the wagon or wandering the banks of the river. Any time Carlós saw me, he found reason to beat me and twice threatened to kill me. Despite Lía's poultices, my back became a network of thin scars. My face bore the mark of the one time I fought back, biting Carlós on the wrist. His heavy ruby ring caught me on the cheekbone just under my right eye. Any prettiness I'd ever had became hidden beneath cuts and bruises.