All is fair in love and business"
My friend"s plan is pretty simple: win the bachelor auction in a charity event and get the most influential man to sign a business deal with us. It"s a do or die situation. But plans rarely go as you would expect.
When the bids begin to take ginormous proportions, my friend can"t stop in her rush of excitement. We don"t have the money. We can"t afford him, and yet, before I can even comprehend what"s happening, we"re the highest bid.
"The bachelor" aka Tyler Becks isn"t old and ugly. He isn"t very business-like, either. In fact, it"s hard to imagine that someone with his brain and bank account can be this sexy.
He understands our cash-strapped situation and is kind enough to cancel the bid. Let us out of the contract. No hard feelings. Or so he claims.
He"s even kind enough to want to work with us. With me, in particular. I can"t refuse, even though working for him means I have to see him every day. My future depends on it.
I won’t let my guard down. I won’t fall for him, and particularly not now that I know he"s hiding something from me. Everything comes at a price. Even Tyler"s generosity.Books by Author:J.C. Reed Books
"Do I really have to"" I ask for the third time and tug at my evening gown, trying to pull a little more length out of it to cover at least the front of my legs.
"We"ve talked about this a million times. Now, sit down and try to blend in before I decide to kick your ass in front of all those people," Brenda whispers and shoots me a murderous look.
Sighing, I plop down into my designated chair and cross my legs, inwardly reprimanding myself for letting my friend drag me along to a charity auction with lots of people in attendance. A charity auction, which if I may say, is so out of my league it might as well be from outer space.
And to top it off, I also let her persuade me into wearing one of her gowns, which isn"t so much a gown as a nightdress that"s been through the dryer one time too many. Not only does it lack fabric in the chest department, it"s also at least two sizes too small, riding up my thighs, and leaving very little to the imagination.
Short at the front, long at the back, off the shoulders, with beading and lace covering my waist, it looks quite elegant"would look even more elegant on the right-sized person. Actually, I"m probably overdressed for the occasion.
But that"s not the problem with it.
It works just fine on her lithe frame, but I don"t have her small body, meaning it looks like I purchased it from a children"s department store"that is, if this kind of dress were being sold there.
Another waiter moves past us. Before he can even blink, I"ve helped myself to a flute of champagne as I"m simultaneously looking at my cell phone.
Two hours to go.
If I don"t stand and don"t walk around, no one will notice what I"m wearing. Given that we"re sitting at the back of the back, right near the exit that leads to the toilets, maybe blending right in won"t be a Herculean task after all. Maybe no one will see me, and I"ll get to leave with both my dignity and my professional reputation intact.
I"ll still be Emily Harding, aspiring publicist and CEO of a two-man, or in this case, two-woman, start-up business.
A business that"s still in its budding stage.
(Everyone has to start somewhere, right" So why not with your best friend and a crazy idea born after midnight under the influence of lots of alcohol")
"Em," Brenda whispers, her tone heeding an unspoken warning.
"What"" I mouth and take a generous gulp of my drink.
Oh my goodness, it"s good, which isn"t surprising given the price tag of our two tickets. Brenda and I have forked out money we don"t have to get into this auction. And now we"re about to fork out even more for what Brenda calls a sure-fire plan to get our business name out there.
I call it a sure-fire plan straight into the depths of bankruptcy.
But alas, we"ve already invested so much money in our business, we might as well gamble the rest of it away.
"Put that champagne flute down. This is work. We"re on a mission," she mumbles what I can only assume are supposed to be words of encouragement. They are not. "I shouldn"t have to remind you that we need this"badly. This is our last resort."
A last resort to save our business, which isn"t doing so well.
"Fine." I do as she instructs, but only because I don"t think I can take another sip of champagne and not choke on it as laughter bubbles up in the back of my throat.
Work usually involves a desk and long hours spent calling up hundreds of prospective clients. That was my approach for months. When that resulted in one failure after another, Brenda brought in the big guns.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats. The auction"s about to begin," a guy announces, his voice echoing through the packed room. I crane my neck to get a good look at the stage, but my view is obstructed by crystal centerpieces and sparkling evening gowns. It looks like the tables in our price range only come with acoustic privileges. To actually see what was going on, we probably would have had to add another zero to our check.
The lights dim a little, and the auction begins. I barely listen to the items up for bid: a designer gown that was worn to the Golden Globes by a young starlet whose name is slowly turning into a brand. Then there"s a signed baseball bat, spa tickets, a luxury dinner at a star-rated restaurant, and the list goes on and on.
Everyone seems to want to outbid one another, and the offers bulge to outrageous proportions. After half an hour, I take out my cell phone and put on my most serious business expression"brows furrowed in fake concentration to make my actions seem more authentic in their intensity"as I pretend to be reading my emails while engaging in a Sudoku battle.