The Millionaire Makeover (Bachelor Auction)By: Naima Simone
Only a female could be that fucking diabolical.
“Ladies, please step to the front of the stage and meet your bachelors.” The evening’s hostess with a slit in her dress almost as high as her other slit summoned the winning bidders to the front of the ballroom. He gritted his teeth, the reason for his being at the gala rematerializing with the force of a sledgehammer. Right. Arm candy. Cattle for the slaughter. Hell, he silently growled, he wouldn’t be surprised if the woman who won him inspected his teeth or fondled his dick to discover if she’d bought worthy goods.
Following the other nine men off the platform, he once more sought out Khloe. But she no longer stood beside the table he’d spotted her at earlier. He frowned, again wondering why she was attending the society fundraiser. The newly graduated twenty-two-year-old he remembered from three years ago had favored quieter, much less populated venues. Like get-togethers with friends at coffee shops. As a matter-of-fact, the only parties she’d attended had been those boring-as-hell gatherings of her parents. Michael, six years his sister’s senior, could often beg off attending, but Khloe hadn’t attained that measure of independence then. When they could manage, he and Michael would try to help her escape, but those times had been few and far between.
Carter and Rosalind Richardson had already failed to keep their only son away from Niall’s corruptive, indolent, hedonistic—their words, not his—influence, and they’d refused to take chances with their daughter.
Had Khloe finally managed to unearth herself from under their overprotective, stifling wings? He grimaced as an image of that awful dress flashed in front of his eyes. At twenty-five, she might not live with them any longer, but their sway seemed to be as strong as ever.
Not that it mattered, he concluded, emerging from the back of the stage area and into the ballroom. None of it—Khloe’s presence here, her questionable fashion sense, parents’ control or lack of it. It’d been three years since he’d climbed out of his bed while she slept, hair a thick, mahogany tangle over his pillows, her beautiful body curled into a ball like a sleeping kitten, soft, adorable snores escaping her parted lips. Three years since he’d sent her away, racked by guilt over fucking his best friend’s sister while he’d been drunk and she’d been vulnerable. Three years since he’d seen her, touched her, talked to her.
Once he had this ridiculous date over with and out of the way, it would be more years. That night had been an aberration. He’d betrayed Michael’s friendship and memory by taking advantage of the one person his friend had loved and valued above all others. And from the way his gut clenched and his cock throbbed, if he remained in Boston longer then was necessary, he might commit that treason again.
“Bachelor number ten,” a sultry voice murmured. And cooled the need pulsing inside him as effectively as an abrupt dousing of freezing water. He lowered his head and met the gleaming appreciation in a direct, bright blue stare. The woman’s polished, flawless beauty reminded him of a perfectly cut and brilliant diamond—and left him as cold as one. Diamonds were exquisite but possessed all the warmth of a witch’s titty. His ex-wife, Veronica, had shared the same cutting loveliness. “So nice to meet you.” She extended a slim hand toward him almost as if she expected him to kiss the back of it. “Morgan Lett. And you are?”
“Niall Hunter.” He accepted her hand, pumped it once then released it. “I’m assuming I have you to thank for the twenty thousand bid?”
“The one and only,” she replied.
“Well, thank you. A donation that size should really help the foundation.”
She waved off his gratitude with a flicker of a bejeweled hand. “Of course. It was nothing.” From the size of the ruby weighing down her ring finger, the hefty price probably was nothing to her—and didn’t even dent the trust fund she undoubtedly owned. “Is that an Irish accent I detect?” She smiled, and a picture of a female lion licking her chops leaped in his head. “I love accents,” she purred.
“That’s fortunate, since you’ll hear a lot of it during the time we spend in New York. Speaking of…” He glanced down at his watch. 9:30. It wasn’t too late in the evening, but he had a return flight to Dublin leaving at 7:30 in the morning. It would be nice if he could make it back to his hotel room at a decent hour and get some sleep. “We should set when you’d like to—”