The boxes were almost empty of donation cards when she opened the bidding on a day trip to the wine country.
“I wish I could bid on this item myself. The package includes door-to-door limousine service, a hot air balloon ride over the Napa Valley, and a gourmet food basket. We’ve arranged for a table at Thistle Creek Cellars in their private dining room for after your flight. A bottle of vintage wine — either red or white — awaits you there. We’ll start the bidding at five hundred dollars.”
The room fell silent. Molly couldn’t believe it. Gliding over the Napa Valley was one of life’s pleasures she often promised herself but always put off. It usually had something to do with cost. A woman she recognized as the CEO of a large corporation headquartered in the city raised her program. Finally some action.
“Okay. I have five hundred. Do I hear five fifty?”
The room remained quiet except for the rustle of programs and people shifting in chairs.
“I guess some of you must have a height phobia. Would it help to smuggle the wine aboard before you leave the ground?” That garnered a few chuckles. With luck, now the logjam would break.
“Five fifty,” a male voice called from a center row.
“That’s the spirit. Who’ll bid six hundred?”
The clock ticked and no one spoke.
“Seven hundred.” A deep voice rolled forward from the back of the room. Nick’s.
Seven? What happened to six? He must really want this package. Apparently, height didn’t qualify as one of his fears.
“Okay.” Encouraged by Nick overbidding, she called out, “Do I hear eight?”
“You mean I’m going to have to let this go for seven hundred?” Nick rose to his feet just as she was about to throw in a plug for the clinic and its many good works.
“Okay, eight hundred.”
Molly blinked. “Eight? You just bid seven.” He looked and sounded sober, but Molly had her doubts. Now it seemed he couldn’t wait to give his money away.
“Yeah, but now I’m bidding eight.” Nick nailed her with a sharp gaze.
“Well, all right … I guess. Your money’s as green as anyone’s.” Perhaps even greener. “Is that the final bid?” Molly grabbed the gavel and her eyes searched the crowd. No other takers. She waited a few seconds anyway. It seemed Nick had a date to sail over the treetops. “Last chance. Going once … twice … ”
“Hold on a minute.” He stepped into the aisle.
“What?” He must have realized he overbid. Now would he insist on backtracking, maybe to the six hundred level?
“I’m not finished.”
Oh, he’d nipped at something for sure. Not Pepsi. If she played along, maybe she could jack him up as high as nine hundred, even the thousand she’d hoped the package would garner.
“Did you want to change your bid?”
“Unless someone else wants to jump in, my bid stands at eight hundred.” He glanced around. No one seemed interested in upping him. “Okay, then, in that case, I’ll go as high as twelve hundred, but that’s only if Miss Molly up there comes along for the ride.”
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