"Sir, we have a problem."
Lakota “Lance” Kemnay scowled at the sheets of rain obscuring the impressive view of London's skyline his ridiculously expensive roof top hotel suite usually afforded. Rivulets of water ran down the glass, as though the sky was weeping with him. Not that one tear had left Lakota's dark eyes. Tears were useless, and a ploy for women to get men wrapped round their little fingers.
He turned around to face his right hand man and vastly over-paid head of his legal team. Percy held a file in his hands, and his face looked as grim as the summer storm raging outside.
"My mother, Lord rest her soul, would have said your face will get stuck like that, Percy." Lakota twisted his lips into the semblance of a smile, but Percy didn't respond. The only other time his unflappable man had been that grim had been when he'd passed on the news of Zeb's death. Surely there could be nothing else that warranted such drama.
"Another problem?" Lakota shook his head and forced himself to put the glass of whiskey in his hand down slowly. "Does this have anything to do with my brother?"
At the other man's nod, Lakota pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. Even in death, Zeb caused trouble.
"How much will this cost me to fix?" he asked.
"I'm not sure your money will help here, Sir. You see, it seems your brother made a rather unusual acquisition before his death—in your name."
That got Lakota's attention. Something about the inflection Percy put on unusual made the fine hair on his neck stand to attention. He was not going to like this acquisition.
"His latest acquisition killed him. How terrible can this one be?"
Percy cleared his throat and shuffled the papers in his hand.
you see, he bought you a virgin."
Percy took a step back at Lakota's not quite human growl in response, and put his hands up in a conciliatory gesture.
Lakota uncurled his clenched fists and forced himself to breathe slowly.
"You mean there are still such elusive things as virgins?" He spat the words out through gritted teeth. "And my brother has somehow managed to find me one?"
"It would seem so, Sir. I have a letter here from him that explains all the details of the transaction. He calls it the perfect solution to your problem. Which it may well be, if we can keep this transaction out of the papers. That scandal would not work at all, for what we have in mind, Sir."
No, it certainly wouldn't. Lakota's heart gave a painful thud against his back bone. If this virgin was indeed the solution he would grasp this opportunity with both hands, and consequences be damned. There was just one problem.
"What sort of a woman would auction off her virginity to the highest bidder?"
Percy shrugged his shoulders.
"As to that, I can't possibly hazard a guess, Sir. I'm in the process of collecting all the necessary background information for you. In the meantime, here's her picture taken from the auction site.”
Lakota glanced at the image passed to him and swore.
"Alice. Alice, wake up. You have got to see this. I told you that other picture was too tame."
Alice groaned and woke up with a start. She hadn't meant to fall asleep on her shift, but the all night café had been unusually quiet, and she'd been on her feet non-stop for the previous twenty-four hours. Beth had had a bad night the night before and mama had been exhausted, so Alice had foregone sleep herself, until this latest crisis had passed. Little Beth's episodes were getting closer together, and lasted for longer.
If they didn't find the cash for the experimental treatment soon… Alice shuddered, and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. No, she would get the money. This ridiculous plan had to work.
Sara literally quivered with excitement. Her spiral red curls bounced around her head, as she shook Alice by the shoulders again.
"Okay, okay, I'm awake. Stop trying to give me whiplash. Where's the fire?"
"I'll let a fire under your ass in a minute, girl. Come on! You need to see this on the boss's big screen. I've been following this all day on my phone, but I must be seeing wrong, and the auction is almost over, but holy shit, girl."
Alice allowed herself to be dragged to the office; not at all sure she was going to like what they were going to see. Sara drummed her long, fire engine red nails on the scuffed wood of the office desk and muttered under her breath, as she waited for the ancient desk top to fire up.
"Come on, come on already."
Alice shook her head and tried her best to get rid of the last remnants of sleep clouding her consciousness.
"Finally!" Sara punched the desk, and Alice suppressed a smile. She might have only known Sara for a few short months, but they'd become fast friends. They'd bonded over the ridiculous hours they worked at the café, and avoiding the lecherous hands of beer gut lorry drivers, who were the mainstream clientele of the twenty-four seven café on the outskirts of town. The occasional hot guy who walked through the door was immediately nabbed by the bubbly Sara, who exuded confident sex appeal like the sirens of old folklore. No man seemed able to resist her once she set her sights on them, and Alice envied Sara and her easy way with men.