The Millionaire Makeover (Bachelor Auction)By: Naima Simone
“Khloe needs a man who will love her with everything he is, who will devote and commit himself to her and provide the home and family she craves.”
He couldn’t give her that; Michael knew Niall couldn’t give her that. As his friend had mentioned, she deserved a man better than Niall. He’d already failed his friend by taking the innocence of his sister. Shoving to his feet, he stared for several long moments at the box and the letter before heading for the stairs.
The very least he could do from here on out was honor Michael’s wish. Watch over Khloe. Protect her.
Even if it meant from himself.
Three years later
“Remind me again why I agreed to this asinine idea?”
Khloe Richardson paused in the entrance of the cavernous ballroom that glittered from the crystal chandelier to the bejeweled guests. She clutched her purse to her stomach as if the ridiculously small and sparkling bag could calm the nerves playing kickball with her intestines. God, she felt like such a fraud. She belonged in a small, messy office filled with computers, modems, and technical manuals. Not in this brilliantly lit room where the formally attired men and women of Boston’s social elite congregated and socialized.
Beside her, Morgan Lett—her best friend, co-worker, and enabler—plucked a fluted glass off a passing tray. She sipped with an appreciative hum. “Oh my God, this is better than sex,” she purred. Then, arching a perfectly waxed, blonde eyebrow, she said, “And the answer to your question is we’re here so you can avoid spinsterhood like it’s a cubic zirconia.”
Actually, there were some pretty nice fake diamonds out there, but since Morgan probably wouldn’t appreciate the observation, Khloe instead murmured, “Oh yeah, that’s right.”
Still, attending the Rhodonite Society’s annual Masquerade Bachelor Auction just smacked of…Match.com meets flesh peddling.
And desperation. Couldn’t forget desperation.
This scheme of Morgan’s to find Khloe a date at a bachelor auction, of all places, reeked of impulsiveness, lunacy, and a whole lot of Hail Mary. The exact antithesis of Khloe’s usual predictability, sanity, and OCD-ish need to plan, chart, and graph. But love did that to a person. It stripped away common sense, persuaded a woman who reveled in algorithms and code to buy a formal gown, death-defying heels, and take part in this…spectacle. More specifically, love for Bennett Charles—brilliant, successful, handsome, sophisticated, and chief operating officer of System Solutions Unlimited, the firm she and Morgan worked for.
An image of the company’s executive unfurled in her mind’s eyes. She’d been adoring him from afar for the past six months. But other than the occasional conversation before a staff meeting or a friendly but slightly vacant smile, Bennett didn’t seem to notice she existed. And if not for a terrifying car accident a month ago that she’d miraculously managed to walk away from with little more than scrapes and bruises, she might have been content with moseying along, quietly crushing on him. Her older brother, Michael, had died in a car accident three years earlier. Her brush with death and knowledge that tomorrow wasn’t guaranteed had jolted her awake from a catatonic, emotional slumber. Not one more second would she sit on the proverbial shelf, a spectator in life and gathering enough dust to create a sandstorm.
Trouble was, she didn’t have a great résumé where men were concerned.
One had stolen a project idea from her, received a promotion as a result of her hard work then took off for a new European office, breaking up with her via a PM on Facebook.
The other? Well, the other had stolen her virginity and broken her heart…
Anyway, Bennett—with his genteel, warm manner, brilliance, and kindness—was her chance at a life filled with affection, companionship, and stability.
All she had to do was get him to realize how perfect they could be for one another. And buying a date at this auction and taking him to her company’s annual gala so Bennet would realize that someone—a handsome, wealthy someone—wanted her would be the perfect wake-up call. Well, according to Morgan, it would be. Honestly, Khloe had her doubts this crazy plan would work. But, here she was, going along with it. Desperate times, desperate measures ‘n’ all that.