Sarah House is the novel about a young woman named Nita, who wakes up one day to the knowledge that Slim, the man she loved has led her into a life of slavery, where she's bought and sold without her consent and is forced to survive in a desolate landscape where sleazy strip clubs and prostitution are the order of the day.

Read an exclusive extract below.

‘You want me to be nice to you, don’t you?’

‘I don’t want anything,’ I stammered and made no effort to steady my voice. Something terrible was about to happen to me.

I felt it in the way he looked at me and the way he touched my skin. I saw it in his lopsided double smile, and the wall that refused to melt and swallow me so he would never have me within his reach.

‘I will be nice to you. Come.’

I did not move. I was held with my back against the wall by a fear I had never felt before.

His double smile expanded as his fingers closed around my elbow. His grip was tight and strong, like a metal clasp.

His fingers also felt cold and clammy, though they burnt where they touched my skin. I felt repulsion rise in waves inside me. Something in my stomach revolted and I was seized by an overpowering urge to leap up from the bed and throw up.

 I subdued the urge and swallowed back down the living thing that had rushed through my intestines towards my mouth.

The painful effort forced a small moan to escape my tightly clenched teeth and lips. The sound seemed to excite him, because at that moment, his eyes glinted as he looked at me with new interest.

He drew me effortlessly with one hand towards where he sat, while the other hand worked slowly, almost lazily, at the head of his belt. He seemed not to be in any hurry, but had all the time in the world to do whatever he wanted.

Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion, as if this place and those living in it had lost all sense of time and no one needed to hurry over anything.

Then I was against him. His body felt hard under his shirt, like something carved out of cold stone. This close, I smelt his breath, a mixture of Kai Kai, the local gin, and marijuana.

There were several other smells I could not name. The other hand, the one working the belt came up as his trousers fell away to the floor. And with that hand, he grasped the front of my shirt and started pulling.

The hell I was running away from had come home to me.

I struggled against the grip of his hand. I knew then that every effort I made was useless. He was simply too strong, and there were only the two of us in that room.

Then I did the only other thing I could think of, I started screaming.

Perhaps someone would hear the sound and come to find out what was happening. I doubted this, though, because Tega had told me that Slim had Fatty and the other boys beat the girls up now and then as a way to keep them in line. No one would interfere in this. No one wanted Slim’s trouble.

The man’s other hand clamped over my mouth and nose, cutting off not just the scream but my breath. He held me like that till I started seeing flashes of light before my eyes, and was losing consciousness.

‘Will you behave yourself?’ he asked, his face so close I could see the dilated pupils of his eyes.

I heard his voice from what seemed like the other end of a long tunnel. I tried to nod, but all I managed was a weak bob of my head.

The movement was enough. He lowered his hand a little to let air trickle into my inflamed nostrils, but kept his vice-like fingers clamped over my mouth.

I stopped struggling then because he seemed to enjoy it and it seemed to make him more aggressive. He pulled me against him once again.

This time I felt his turgid penis pressing against my abdomen.

I looked up into his eyes, begging him as my shirt came off in his hands. His hand slid down to the button of my jeans. Mercifully, he did not tear them off.

He undid them in the same slow almost lazy manner and slid them down to my ankles. With little effort he pushed me back on the bed. Straddling me on his knees, he forced my legs apart and lowered himself into me.

I screamed again as the darkness and the pain came at the same time.

This extract was published with permission from Pan Macmillan South Africa.

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