Home > Driven (Driven #1)(8)

Driven (Driven #1)(8)
Author: K. Bromberg

“I think I’ll manage,” he laughs out loud. “Don’t worry about me. I’m good at multi-tasking,” he quips, trying to beat me at my own game. “Besides, the night’s still young, and by my count the score is oh for one so far. The second score has yet to be settled.” He arches his eyebrows at me. “Don’t over think it, Rylee. It’s a bet. Plain and simple.”

I cross my arms across my chest. The decision is easy. Anything for my boys. “Better get your checkbook ready, Ace. There’s nothing I like better than proving arrogant bastards like you wrong.”

He takes another sip of his drink, his eyes never leaving mine. “You sure are certain of yourself.”

“Let’s just say that my self-control is something that I pride myself on.”

Donavan steps closer to me again. “Self-control, huh?” he murmurs, challenge dancing in his eyes. “Seems we’ve already tested that theory, Rylee, and it didn’t seem to hold true. I’d be glad to test it again, though … ”

The muscles in my core clench at the possible promise, the ache burning there, begging for relief. Why am I acting like a girl who has never felt a man’s touch before? Maybe because it has never been this man’s touch.

“Okay,” I tell him, sticking out my hand to shake his, “It’s a bet. But I’ll warn you, I don’t lose.”

He reaches out to take my hand, a broad smile lighting up his features, eyes sparkling a bold emerald. “Neither do I, Rylee,” he murmurs. “Neither do I.”

“Rylee, sorry to interrupt but we need you right now,” says a voice behind me.

I turn to find Stella, a look of panic on her face. I look toward Donavan, “If you’ll excuse me, I’m needed elsewhere.” I feel awkward in the moment. Unsure what else I should say or do.

He nods his head at me. “We’ll talk more later.”

As I walk away, I realize I’m not sure if his response is a threat or a promise.

CHAPTER 3

I am sitting backstage in the chaotic aftermath of the auction, but my mind is still reeling from its events. The last hour and a half has been a blur. A successful blur in fact, but one that has come at a very high cost—primarily my dignity.

At the last minute, one of our “date” auction participants had become ill. With no one else willing to partake and programs pre-printed with a set number of participants, I begged, bribed, and pleaded with every member of my staff to step in and fill the role. Of all of the available people who were not physically needed for the facilitation of the auction, those left were either married or seriously attached to someone.

Everyone that was, except for me.

I whined, cajoled, pleaded even, but in an ironic twist that many of the staff took pleasure in, I became auction block item number twenty-two. So I had to suck it up and take one for the team, all the while ignoring a notion screaming in my subconscious that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

And believe me, I hated every fucking minute of it! From the beauty-pageant-style introduction, to the parading around on a stage like a trophy, to the whistling catcalls of the audience, to the vapid calling of bidder’s dollar amounts by the announcer. The lights were so blinding I couldn’t see the audience, just a vague outline of figures. My time in the spotlight was a haze of embarrassment, the sound of my heartbeat rushing in my ears, and the fear that my sweating from the heat of the stage lights would leave dark marks on the underarms of my dress.

I’m sure if I’d been on the other side of the stage, I would have found the auctioneer’s comments entertaining, the participation of the audience endearing, and the silly antics of some of the women on stage trying to increase their bids amusing. I would’ve watched the contribution total rise and would have been proud of my staff for the successful outcome.

Instead, I’m sitting in the backstage area, taking a deep breath, and wrapping my head around what the hell just happened.

“Way to go, Ry!” I hear the humor at my predicament in Dane’s voice as he makes his way backstage toward me through the twenty-four other women who were willing participants in the auction. They’re all exiting off the stage, gathering their bags of swag items we provided as a token to thank them for their participation.

I glare at him, my annoyance from my first-hand involvement evident. He gives me a wide, toothy grin, as he grabs me in an unreciprocated hug. I’m beyond grumpy. I’m downright bitchy. I mean, what a fucking night! First locked in the closet, then playing unknown sloppy seconds on the conquest list of Mr. Arrogant, and then enduring the humiliation of being purchased like prime beef at a meat market.

I cannot believe the giddiness of the women around me. They are chatting animatedly about their moment in the spotlight and bragging at how much they went for. I’m grateful for their participation, ecstatic at the outcome, but just simply bewildered at their enthusiasm.

The evening’s earlier accusation of being prim comes back to my mind, and I shake it off.

“That was fucking horrible!” I whine, shaking my head in incredulity as he laughs sympathetically at me. “All I want is a large glass—no screw that, a bottle of wine, some form of chocolate, and to get this damn dress and heels off, in no particular order.”

“If that’s all it takes to get you naked, I’d have brought you wine and chocolate a long time ago.”

I glare at him, finding no amusement in his comment. “Too bad I don’t have the right equipment to keep you satisfied.”

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