Come on, Brooklyn. Time to pull out the big guns. Right now the ability to send another human being telepathic messages would’ve come in so handy.
On cue Tasha answered Rose’s call, her auction paddle shooting up.
He expected Rose to clap her hands together and prance around like a little kid who’d come downstairs on Christmas morning and found a pony waiting for them. “Fabulous. We have fifty-five thousand. Is anyone willing to go to fifty-eight?”
Brooklyn remained stone-faced, her hands on the table. Both Zoe and the redhead from earlier kept quiet, and he spotted Tasha rising from her seat, prepared to join him on stage. The sight switched his flight or fight response on as he struggled to get enough oxygen into his body.
Rose patted his shoulder. “Going once.” Down on the floor Tasha started walking toward the stage stairs, and all he could do was stare at Brooklyn. No, she wouldn’t let him down like this.
The invisible hand around his throat tightened as Tasha stepped up onto the first step, the most terrifying smile he’d ever seen on a woman spread across her face.
Then as if he were watching a slow-motion scene in a movie, Brooklyn stood, her paddle with the large number eighty-two printed on it in her hand. “One hundred and fifty-eight thousand dollars,” she said, her voice loud and clear so everyone present would hear it.
A hush fell over the room and all eyes turned toward Brooklyn. On the stairs Tasha stumbled and landed on her knees.
“One hundred and fifty-eight thousand?” Rose’s voice came out as a squeak.
Brooklyn moved away from her table and closer to the stage. “Correct.”
Openmouthed, Rose glanced his way before turning toward Tasha, who’d managed to stand back up. The smile she’d worn seconds before no longer remained. Instead she appeared as shocked as the rest of the room.
“Would you like to make a counteroffer?” Rose asked.
Slowly, Tasha shook her head.
“Going once.” Rose paused, although he didn’t know why she bothered. “Going twice.” Complete silence continued as Brooklyn started up the stage stairs and passed an unmoving Tasha. “Sold to bidder number eighty-two for one hundred and fifty-eight thousand dollars.”
The invisible hand around his neck eased up, allowing him to once again breathe. She’d come through for him.
Brooklyn stopped next to him, a fake smile pasted on her face. Reaching out, he took her clammy hand and gave it a squeeze. Yep, he owed her big-time for saving his butt tonight.
“Mr. Sherbrooke, I think our winner deserves a kiss,” the photographer said, his camera raised and ready. So far he’d captured a picture of each couple exchanging a kiss when the winner came on stage to collect her prize. Not doing the same would stand out as odd.
“I believe you’re right,” he said. Pulling Brooklyn into his arms, he hoped she didn’t punch him in the nose for what he was about to do.
She didn’t resist him, but her body remained rigid against his. He didn’t let that stop him. Instead he pressed his mouth against hers.
An odd combination of excitement and tenderness started in his chest and spread through his body. A small part of his brain sensed her arms slipping around his neck and her body softening against his, but most of his attention remained focused on the lips beneath his and the onslaught of emotions he couldn’t label. He’d kissed a lot of women, perhaps more than he should’ve, but never had he experienced anything like this.
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