The Millionaire Makeover (Bachelor Auction)By: Naima Simone
She might be going home bachelor-less after all.
The evening progressed, bachelor after bachelor striding out onto the stage and standing stoically as women waged war over them with paddles, money, and looks at rivals that promised painful retribution. Morgan jumped in on bachelor number four whose favorite movie was Mildred Pierce—how could he not be awesome?—and number six, whose idea of a romantic getaway was days holed up in his home on the Cape, talking, sleeping, and making love to his special woman. Wow. The heat level had ratcheted several degrees with that tidbit. But for each man, the price had risen well over ten thousand dollars, and she couldn’t justify allowing Morgan to spend the money for her. Morgan’s sighs had segued into mutterings and growls of impatience.
Soon, Peek-a-boo announced the last bachelor of the evening. Khloe’s heart thudded against her chest, sweat dampened her palms. This man was her last hope. Either she won him, or she’d go home alone with no chance in hell of finding a date for her company’s gala, which loomed six short days away. At five feet, five inches tall, with dark brown hair she kept bound in a ponytail or a knot at the back of her head on more formal occasions—like tonight—and a body that carried ten more pounds then was fashionable in her breasts, hips, and ass, she was more Paula Deen than Paula Patton. She didn’t inspire lustful fantasies.
Which was why she needed to buy a man who pretended to have them.
“And our final bachelor of the night.”
A man appeared from the left wing. Unlike the other men, he didn’t saunter or swagger. He stalked—with purpose, with intent…with might. Each long-legged stride ate up the distance to the middle of the stage. Her breath stuttered in her throat.
He wasn’t the biggest man to grace the platform tonight—that honor belonged to Mildred Pierce-loving bachelor number three—but his tall, lean frame fairly hummed with power and a grace reserved for hunters and predators on four legs. Unlike the other men, he didn’t wear a tuxedo. But his flawlessly cut black jacket and pants coupled with an equally dark shirt emphasized his…stunning masculinity. And sexuality. She blinked. O-kay. Where had that thought come from?
“Though bachelor number ten has offices on both sides of the Atlantic, he claims Boston as his hometown. A man of culture, he enjoys a night at the opera as much as an evening in the local pub. His favorite musicians include Luciano Pavarotti, The Dubliners, and U2, and in his estimation, no movie tops The Godfather. The woman who eventually wins his heart will possess interests as varied as his own, will be adventurous, and well-traveled.”
Well, that left Khloe out. Most of her life revolved around her job, her idea of adventure was online gaming, and she’d been to Dublin, Ireland exactly once. And the less said about that trip, the better.
“The fortunate woman to win him for her date will spend two days and a night in glamorous New York City where she will enjoy romantic dinners for two at five-star restaurants, a Broadway play, a concert, museums, and a personal appointment at Harry Winston’s Fifth Avenue location.” A wave of low voices rose and ebbed at the mention of the famous New York jeweler. Peek-a-boo’s smile widened as if she could sense the money this date would rake in. “We’ll open the bidding at five thousand.”
Morgan’s arm shot up, paddle in hand. As did another woman. And another. And another. Five minutes later, her friend was fully embroiled in a bidding war that didn’t exhibit any signs of slowing. A bead of sweat moseyed down her spine. Morgan’s full mouth firmed into a straight line, and her light brown eyebrows arrowed into a vee over glinting eyes. Khloe had witnessed this particular look before when someone crossed her friend at work. She’d labeled it Morgan’s “back off, bitch” expression, and woe to anyone who got in her way.
“Twelve thousand,” Peek-a-boo crowed. “Twelve. Do I have thirteen?”
Morgan lifted her arm. “Thirteen.”
“Morgan,” Khloe gasped. “You can’t.” She grabbed the other woman’s arm, but Morgan shook off her hold. “That’s too much—”