Holy shit, did I really just do that? It must be the alcohol. I’ve had champagne plus four glasses of four different wines. I glance up at Christian who’s busy applauding.
Crap, he’s going to be so angry, and we’ve been getting on so well. My subconscious has finally decided to make an appearance, and she’s wearing her Edvard Munch Scream face.Christian leans over to me, a large fake smile plastered across his face. He kisses my cheek and then moves closer to whisper in my ear in a very cold, controlled voice.
“I don’t know whether to worship at your feet or spank the living shit out of you.” Oh, I know what I want right now. I gaze up at him, blinking through my mask. I just wish I could read what’s in his eyes.
“I’ll take option two, please,” I whisper frantically as the applause dies down. His lips part as he inhales sharply. Oh that chiseled mouth—I want it on me, now. I ache for him. He gives me a radiant sincere smile that leaves me breathless.
“Suffering, are you? We’ll have to see what we can do about that,” he murmurs as he runs his fingers along my jaw.
His touch resonates deep, deep inside where that ache has spawned and grown. I want to jump him right here, right now, but we sit back to watch the auction of the next lot.
I can barely sit still. Christian drapes an arm around my shoulders, his thumb rhythmically stroking my back, sending delicious tingles down my spine. His free hand clasps mine, bringing it to his lips, then letting it rest on his lap.
Slowly and surreptitiously, so I don’t realize his game until it’s too late, he eases my hand up his leg and against his erection. I gasp, and my eyes dart in panic around the table, but all eyes are fixed on the stage. Thank heavens for my mask.
Taking full advantage, I slowly caress him, letting my fingers explore. Christian keeps his hand over mine, hiding my boldfingers, while his thumb skates softly over the nape of my neck. His mouth opens as he gasps softly, and it’s the only reaction I can see to my inexperienced touch. But it means so much. He wants me. Everything south of my navel contracts. This is becoming unbearable.
A week by Lake Adriana in Montana is the final lot for auction. Of course Mr. and Dr.
Grey have a house in Montana, and the bidding escalates rapidly, but I am barely aware of it. I feel him growing beneath my fingers, and it makes me feel so powerful.
“Sold, for one hundred ten thousand dollars!” the MC declares victoriously. The whole room bursts into applause, and reluctantly I follow as does Christian, ruining our fun.
He turns to me and his lips twitch. “Ready?” he mouths over the rapturous cheering.
“Yes,” I mouth back
“Ana!” Mia calls. “It’s time!”
What? No. Not again! “Time for what?”
“The First Dance Auction. Come on!” She stands and holds out her hand.
I glance at Christian who is, I think, scowling at Mia, and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, but it’s laughter that wins. I succumb to a cathartic bubble of schoolgirl giggles, as we are thwarted once more by the tall, pink powerhouse that is Mia Grey. Christian peers at me, and after a beat, there’s a ghost of a smile on his lips.
“The first dance will be with me, okay? And it won’t be on the dance floor,” he murmurs lasciviously into my ear. My giggles subside as anticipation fans the flames of my need. Oh, yes! My inner goddess performs a perfect triple Salchow in her ice skates.
“I look forward to it.” I lean over and plant a soft, chaste kiss on his mouth. Glancing around, I realize that our fellow guests at the table are astonished. Of course, they’ve never seen Christian with a date before.
He smiles broadly at me. And he looks . . . happy. Wow.
“Come on, Ana,” Mia nags. Taking her outstretched hand, I follow her onto the stage where ten more young women have assembled, and I note with vague unease that Lily is one of them.
“Gentlemen, the highlight of the evening!” the MC booms over the babble of voices.
“The moment you’ve all been waiting for! These twelve lovely ladies have all agreed to auction their first dance to the highest bidder!”
Oh no. I blush from head to toe. I hadn’t realized what this meant. How humiliating!
“It’s for a good cause,” Mia hisses at me, sensing my discomfort. “Besides, Christian will win.” She rolls her eyes. “I can’t imagine him letting anyone outbid him. He hasn’t taken his eyes off you all evening.”
Yes, focus on the good cause, and Christian is bound to win. Let’s face it, he’s not short of a dime or two.
But it means spending more money on you! my subconscious snarls at me. But I don’t want to dance with anyone else—I can’t dance with anyone else—and it’s not spending money on me, he’s donating it to the charity. Like the twenty-four thousand dollars he’s already spent? My subconscious narrows her eyes.
Shit. I seem to have gotten away with my impulsive bid. Why am I arguing with myself?”Now, gentlemen, pray gather round, and take a good look at what could be yours for the first dance. Twelve comely and compliant wenches.” Jeez! I feel like I’m in a meat market. I watch, horrified, as at least twenty men make their way to the stage area, Christian included, moving with easy grace between the tables and pausing to say a few hellos on the way. Once the bidders are assembled, the MC begins.
“Ladies and gentlemen, in the tradition of the masquerade we shall maintain the mystery behind the masks and stick to first names only. First up we have the lovely Jada.” Jada is giggling like a schoolgirl, too. Maybe I won’t be so out of place. She’s dressed head to foot in navy taffeta with a matching mask. Two young men step forward expectantly. Lucky Jada.