Home > Driven (Driven #1)(5)

Driven (Driven #1)(5)
Author: K. Bromberg

***

I stare at myself in the bathroom mirror. Dane’s right, I look like hell. I’ve ruined a large portion of the painstaking preparation my roommate, Haddie, has done with my hair and make-up for this evening. I take a paper towel and try to blot at my makeup to repair the damage. The tears have left my amethyst eyes rimmed red, and I need not wonder why my lipstick is no longer perfectly lining my lips. Pieces of my chestnut color hair are falling out of its clip, and the seam of my dress is horribly askew.

I can hear the dull bass of the music on the other side of the wall. It plays background to the voices belonging to the hundreds of tonight’s potential donors. I take a deep breath and lean against the sink for a moment.

I can see why Dane questioned what had really happened and if Mr. Arrogant had anything to do with it. I look completely disheveled!

I shift my dress so that its sweetheart neckline sits correctly, adjusting my more-than-ample girls to sit properly. I smooth my hands over my hips where the fabric clings to my curves. I start to put the wisps of hair that have escaped back into my clip but stop myself. The tendrils have returned to my naturally wavy state, and I decide that I like the softened effect the curls have on my overall look.

I reach into my purse, which Dane has brought me, and freshen up my make-up. I add some mascara to my naturally thick lashes and reapply my smudged eyeliner. My eyes look better. Not great—but better. I pucker my lips, tracing my lipstick over the full M shape of them, rub them together, and then blot them.

Not as good as Haddie, but good enough. I’m ready to rejoin the festivities.

CHAPTER 2

Jewels, designer gowns, and name-dropping are prevalent as I observe all of the celebrities, socialites, and philanthropists who fill the old theater. Tonight is the culmination of much of my efforts over the past year. An event to raise the majority of the funds needed to break ground on the new facilities.

And I am way out of my comfort zone.

Dane discretely rolls his eyes at me from across the room, for he knows I would much rather be back at The House with the boys in my usual jeans and ponytail. I allow a ghost of a smile to grace my lips as I nod my head at him in silent agreement before taking a sip my champagne.

I am still trying to wrap my head around what I willingly allowed to happen backstage and the sting of knowing I wasn’t the first person Mr. Arrogant had made his moves on tonight. I’m dumbfounded at both my uncharacteristic actions and confused at how hurt I feel. Surely I can’t expect a man looking for a quick romp to have any kind of emotion behind his actions other than to purely boost his already-inflated ego.

“There you are, Rylee,” a voice interrupts my thoughts.

I turn to find my boss. A bear of a man standing close to six and half feet tall with a heart bigger than that of anyone I’ve ever met. Appropriately enough, he looks like a big teddy bear. “Teddy,” I say affectionately as I lean into the arm he’s placed on my shoulders in a quick hug. “Looks like it’s turning out well, don’t you think?”

“Thanks to all your hard effort. From what I hear, the checks are coming in.” His lips curve, the smile causing his eyebrows to wiggle. “And that’s before the auction begins.”

“Just because it’s a successful way to raise money, doesn’t mean I have to agree with it,” I reluctantly admit, trying to not sound like a prude. It’s a debate we’ve had countless times over the past couple of months with regard to the date auction. Even though it’s for charity, I just don’t understand why women are willing to sell themselves to the highest bidder. I can’t help but think the bidders are going to want more than just a date in return for the fifteen-thousand dollar starting bid.

“It’s not like we’re running a brothel, Rylee,” Teddy admonishes. He sidesteps and looks over my right shoulder as a guest catches his attention. “Oh, there’s someone I want you to meet. This is a cause very near and dear to him. He’s one of our chairpeople’s sons who—” he stops his explanation as whoever it is approaches nearby. “Donavan! Good to see you,” he says heartily as he shakes hands with the person at my back.

I turn around, willing to make a new acquaintance and meet the bemused eyes of Mr. Arrogant.

Well, shit! How is it that despite being twenty-six years old, I suddenly feel like a prepubescent, awkward teenager? The half an hour away from him has done nothing to dampen his scorching good looks or the forbidden pull he has on my libido. His six-foot-plus frame is covered in a perfectly tailored black tuxedo that screams affluence, and my knowledge that beneath the jacket lies an obviously toned torso makes me bite me lower lip in unwanted need. And yet despite his magnetism, I’m still furious at him.

My mind sparks again with the notion that he looks familiar, that he resembles someone I know, but the shock of seeing him again overrides the thought pinging around in my head.

He smirks at me, his mirth apparent, and all I can think about is how those lips felt on mine. How his fingers, holding a tumbler now, felt traveling over my bare skin. About the length of his body pressed against mine.

And how he had licentiously acquainted himself with another woman moments before moving on to debase me.

Plastering a fake smile on my face, my eyes glare at Donavan as an unaware Teddy addresses him. “There’s someone I’d like you to meet. She’s the driving force behind what you see tonight.“ Teddy turns to me, placing a hand on my lower back. “Rylee Thomas, please meet—”

“We’ve already met,” I say sweetly interrupting him, saccharine oozing from my words as I smile at them. Teddy looks at me oddly, for insincerity is rare from me. “Thank you for the introduction, though,” I continue, looking from Teddy to Donavan, reaching out to shake his hand as if he is just another potential benefactor.

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