Home > Driven (Driven #1)(9)

Driven (Driven #1)(9)
Author: K. Bromberg

“Meow!” he responds biting his lip to suppress his laugh. “Oh, sweetie, that had to have been horrible for you, Ms. Keep-me-out-of-the-spotlight-at-all-costs! Look at you, ” he sits in the chair next to me, putting his arm around my shoulder and pulling me to him. I rest my head on his shoulder, enjoying the comforting feeling of friendship. “At least you sold for above the asking price.”

“You asshole!” I pull away from him, as he laughs childishly at me, rubbing in what he knows is a sore spot. To be honest, I still have no idea what amount my ‘winning bid’ was because I was too busy listening to the frantic pounding of my heartbeat fill my head while on stage.

To say that my ego doesn’t care how much I was auctioned for is a mild understatement. Even though I detested the process, what female wouldn’t want to know that someone thinks she is worthy enough to be bid money on for a date? Especially after my experience earlier in the evening.

“What are friends for? I mean between the bidding war and the ensuing brawl over your potential suitor,” he blows out a large breath, humor in his eyes, “and the all-out melee that ensued … ”

“Oh, be quiet will you!” I laugh, relaxing for the first time at his ribbing. “No really, how much did I raise?”

“Listen to you! Most women would first say ‘How much did I go for?’” he mocks in a high-pitch, pretentious voice, making me giggle, “and then the next question would be ‘How hot is my date?’”

I turn to him and arch my eyebrows in the manner that always has the boys at The House answering quickly—or taking cover. “Well?” When he doesn’t respond, but rather stares at me in mock horror for wondering, I allow myself to become one of the whiney voice women around me. “Dane, give me the details!”

“Well, my dear, you sold,” I shiver in mock horror at his words. He continues, “Excuse me, your future date spent twenty-five thousand dollars for an evening with you.”

What? Holy shit! I’m dumbfounded. I know the starting bid was fifteen thousand for all entrants, but someone actually paid ten thousand more than that? Pride and a feeling of worth soars within me, repairing part of the damage Donavan inflicted earlier on my ego.

I try to rationalize someone I don’t know spending that kind of money on a date with me, and I can’t. It had to have been one of the chair people who worked closely on the board with me. This was the only plausible explanation. Most of the other women on the stage had been part of the elite Hollywood charity circle—they had friends and family in the audience to bid on them. I didn’t.

I can only deduce that it’s someone I’d worked with in making this benefit happen. It’s the only logical explanation for the amount of money spent. I’m flattered that one of the people on either the Board or the organization committee had thought highly enough of me to bid that kind of money. I sigh and relax a bit with the knowledge that I will probably have to go on a date with a widowed elderly gentleman or possibly none at all. Maybe the person just wants to donate to us and will let me off the hook. What a relief! I was worried about the date part. Some loser expecting something in return for his generous donation—ugh!

“So did you see who won the auction?”

“Sorry, sweetie,” he says as he pats my knee. “The guy was off to the side. I was in the back. I couldn’t see him.”

“Oh—okay,” disappointment fills my voice as I begin to worry again.

“Don’t worry. I’m sure it is one of the old guys from the board—” he stops, realizing he’s just implied that those are the only men willing to bid on me. He continues cautiously, knowing full well that I’m in bitch-mode right now. “You know what I meant, Ry. They all love you! They’ll do anything to support you.” He eyes me carefully and realizes he should stop while he is ahead.

I sigh loudly, letting it go with the realization that I’m uber-sensitive right now. I take note that most of the participants have cleared out of the backstage area. “Well, my friend, I should be getting back to the soiree.” I stand, smoothing my dress down and wincing as my feet bunch back down into my shoes. “I, for one, am more than done with my duties for the evening. I’m ready to go home and devour that chocolate and wine in the comfort of my fluffy robe and comfy couch.”

“You don’t want to wait and see what the tally is for the night?” he asks, rising from the seat to follow behind me.

We walk past the alcove that Donavan and I had occupied earlier, and I blush, keeping my head down so that Dane won’t question me. “I asked Stella to text me later when it’s added up.” I push open the door to enter the party again. “I don’t need to be here for that—,” I falter as I walk through the door and see Donavan leaning a shoulder casually against the wall, surveying the crowd. He’s a man who is obviously at ease with who he is, regardless of his surroundings. He exudes an aura of raw power mixed with something deeper, something darker that I can’t seem to put my finger on. Rogue. Rebel. Reckless. All three descriptions flash through my head for despite this man’s refined look, he screams definite trouble.

Dane bumps into me from behind as I stop abruptly when Donavan’s scanning eyes connect with mine. “Rylee—” Dane complains until he realizes why I’ve stopped. “Well, shit, if it isn’t Mr. Brooding. What’s going on here, Ry?”

I roll my eyes at the thought of Donavan’s stupid bet. “Arrogance run amuck,” I mutter to him. “I have to take care of something.” I toss over my shoulder, “Be right back.”

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