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|Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley|
Stepping between us, Margaret said, “Ladies, you need to follow protocol.”
Lowering her voice, Miss Bitch hissed, “You are not going home with him. I am.”
Feeling like I was back in high school rather than a grown woman, I snapped, “Wanna bet?”
Rhys cleared his throat into the microphone. “So that’s four thousand, do I have forty-five hundred?”
“Five thousand,” Miss Bitch said, never taking her eyes off mine.
At this rate, we could go on all night. Something had to be done. Drawing my shoulders back, I punched my hand into the air. “Ten thousand.”
Miss Bitch’s eyes widened. “Did I hear you just bet ten thousand dollars?”
Cocking my brows, I countered, “Did I stutter?” When she didn’t respond, I said, “Yep, I thought you heard me correctly.”
I flicked my gaze from hers to Rhys. He grinned and shook his head. “Looks like we have a bid of ten thousand. Do I hear eleven?”
I shot Miss Bitch a look that dared her to try eleven. She then huffed out a frustrated breath before crossing her arms over her chest. I took that as she was conceding. When no one else bid, Rhys banged the gavel down on the podium. “Looks like Mr. Marshall and I will be tying for the highest bids tonight of ten thousand dollars.” Once again applause and whistling assaulted my ears. “Thanks to everyone who came to help make tonight such a success. Thanks also to all the bachelors who have offered their time and services. Most of all, thanks to my mother, Margaret McGowan, for planning and executing this evening’s festivities.”
When the applause started to die down, Rhys bypassed anyone else waiting to talk to him and came straight for me. I couldn’t help the beaming smile that lit up my face when he pulled me into his arms.
“I think I just won a date with you with your money,” I said against his ear.
He chuckled, causing my body to vibrate with his. When he pulled away, he was still smiling. “I believe you have. And where do you intend to take me on your date?”
Since I had had enough high class for one night, I knew it had to be somewhere low-key. “How about a B&D burger and some fries?”
“Ah, I see how it is. You’re planning to go cheap on me now that you’ve spent a lot of my money.”
I grinned. “Yep, sounds good to me.”
“You’re in luck, cheapskate. I happen to love B&D burgers.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” I replied, a little breathlessly since Rhys still had his arms around me.
Someone cleared her throat behind us. It was Margaret with her “I’ve been sucking on lemons” expression. “Rhys, darling—” she began.
He held up a hand. “Mother, I’m sorry, but this young lady just bought my time fair and square.”
“The newspaper wants to get a picture of us.”
When Rhys scowled, I nudged him forward. “Go on. Your adoring public awaits you.”
“I would happily like to tell my adoring public to get bent,” he said, in a low voice.
I couldn’t help giggling. “Why don’t you give me your keys, and I’ll wait at the car.”
He cocked his brows questioningly at me. “I think you’re just trying to abscond with my car.”
“Could be. Guess you’ll have to wait and see.”
Rhys laughed as he dug a ticket out of his pants pocket. “Go ahead and have the valet bring it around. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
As I started out of the study, I ran into Vivian in the hallway. “Leaving, dear?”
“Yeah, Rhys and I are going to get some dinner.”
She grinned. “Have fun. Oh, and do something I would do.”
I couldn’t help laughing at her audacity. The truth was I would be happy to do all the wicked and naughty things Vivian could possibly do if only Rhys was willing. Being in his arms earlier, if only momentarily, felt so damn good. I couldn’t help but wonder if he had any idea what he did to me. Ugh, I hated feeling this mixed up and neurotic. I had to remember that I was strong, beautiful, confident, and that there was no reason why Rhys shouldn’t want to be with me.
As I handed over the ticket to the valet, I silently said a wish for strength so I could get my man.
Out the entire evening, the highlight for me was sitting in a tux at B&D’s, stuffing my face with a burger and fries, with a beautiful girl across from me. Once we devoured our food and had gotten enough odd looks from the other patrons because of our formal wear, we headed back to Allison’s place. I stopped off and picked up a six-pack on the way.
After I parked the car, I turned to Allison who hadn’t made a move to get out yet. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m a little scared to go inside.”
Twisting in my seat to see her better, I asked, “What do you mean?”
She giggled. “I have a feeling that Cassie and her date might be banging on the couch. They were already making out on my bed earlier tonight.”
“Damn,” I muttered, trying to rid myself of any thoughts of Cassie having sex.
After Allison got out of the car, she glanced up at the clear sky filled with stars. “It’s such a pretty night. Why don’t we have our drinks out on the veranda?”
“Sounds good to me, Scarlett,” I teased.
“Oh, shut up. Like you don’t have a veranda yourself,” she said, as we started around the side of the house.