The Millionaire Makeover (Bachelor Auction)(4)

By: Naima Simone


Actually, there were some pretty nice fake diamonds out there, but since Morgan probably wouldn’t appreciate the observation, Khloe instead murmured, “Oh yeah, that’s right.”

Still, attending the Rhodonite Society’s annual Masquerade Bachelor Auction just smacked of…Match.com meets flesh peddling.

And desperation. Couldn’t forget desperation.

This scheme of Morgan’s to find Khloe a date at a bachelor auction, of all places, reeked of impulsiveness, lunacy, and a whole lot of Hail Mary. The exact antithesis of Khloe’s usual predictability, sanity, and OCD-ish need to plan, chart, and graph. But love did that to a person. It stripped away common sense, persuaded a woman who reveled in algorithms and code to buy a formal gown, death-defying heels, and take part in this…spectacle. More specifically, love for Bennett Charles—brilliant, successful, handsome, sophisticated, and chief operating officer of System Solutions Unlimited, the firm she and Morgan worked for.

An image of the company’s executive unfurled in her mind’s eyes. She’d been adoring him from afar for the past six months. But other than the occasional conversation before a staff meeting or a friendly but slightly vacant smile, Bennett didn’t seem to notice she existed. And if not for a terrifying car accident a month ago that she’d miraculously managed to walk away from with little more than scrapes and bruises, she might have been content with moseying along, quietly crushing on him. Her older brother, Michael, had died in a car accident three years earlier. Her brush with death and knowledge that tomorrow wasn’t guaranteed had jolted her awake from a catatonic, emotional slumber. Not one more second would she sit on the proverbial shelf, a spectator in life and gathering enough dust to create a sandstorm.

Trouble was, she didn’t have a great résumé where men were concerned.

One had stolen a project idea from her, received a promotion as a result of her hard work then took off for a new European office, breaking up with her via a PM on Facebook.

The other? Well, the other had stolen her virginity and broken her heart…

Anyway, Bennett—with his genteel, warm manner, brilliance, and kindness—was her chance at a life filled with affection, companionship, and stability.

All she had to do was get him to realize how perfect they could be for one another. And buying a date at this auction and taking him to her company’s annual gala so Bennet would realize that someone—a handsome, wealthy someone—wanted her would be the perfect wake-up call. Well, according to Morgan, it would be. Honestly, Khloe had her doubts this crazy plan would work. But, here she was, going along with it. Desperate times, desperate measures ‘n’ all that.

“Here.” Morgan liberated another glass of wine from a passing waiter and pressed the flute into Khloe’s hand. “Drink this. It’ll help you look more let-the-festivities-begin and less headed-to-a-dinner-date-with-Hannibal-Lecter.”

Khloe lifted the drink, carefully stepping on the ballroom’s gleaming ebony and marble inlaid tiles, not trusting her newly purchased heels on the slick floor.

“Maybe I look that that way because—damn it,” she grumbled, quickly steadying herself after her heel skidded, and she lisped to the side. “Because it’s exactly how I’m feeling. When I mentioned hiring a date for the gala, I was joking.” Sort of. “But I definitely didn’t mean…” She waved a hand in the direction of the brightly lit stage. “This.”

Morgan looped an arm through hers and guided her through the throngs of people. “First, we’re buying, not hiring. Big difference.” She smiled and murmured a “hello” to an older woman with so many diamonds around her neck—very likely not cubic zirconia—Khloe was certain there was an insurance adjustor somewhere praying as he white-knuckled a policy on those gems. “And while this might seem extreme, desperate times call for desperate measures. And sweetie,” she patted Khloe’s hand, “I love you, but you’re desperate.”

An immediate objection leaped to Khloe’s tongue, but after a moment, she swallowed it. What could she say? Morgan was right. Hadn’t she just thought the same thing? Still, attending a bachelor’s auction to lease a hopefully hot date poked too close at a wound that remained sore to this day. Morgan, who had probably been born with her expertly streaked blonde hair, perfectly straight teeth, and gorgeous body, wouldn’t know anything about begging her brother to take her to the prom so she wouldn’t end up with the monosyllabic, arachnid-obsessed son of her parents’ fellow professor at Cambridge College.

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