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By: Rebekah Jonesy

Copyright 2017 Rebekah Jonesy

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Table of Content

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

About the Author

Excerpt from the next book Unacceptable

Other books by Rebekah Jonesy

Chapter 1

Stuart was scowling as he ran out of his house and got into the back of his car. The driver shut the door as he pulled out his tablet. As he checked his schedule he felt the car rock slightly. Without looking up he asked, “Will we still make it on time, Dean? Getting ready took me longer than I expected.”

Dean knew his employer’s schedule and always stayed up to date on traffic situations in the area. With regret in his voice he answered, “Probably not, Mr. Altmann. At this time of night…” He pulled out of the long driveway and started speeding down the road.

“Don’t worry about it. It’s my fault. I should have checked with Paula earlier. If I hadn’t had to run home to change--” Stuart sighed. “I hate being late. But Paula said I wasn’t dressed properly for the event.”

“She would know, Mr. Altmann.” Dean nodded as he maneuvered them through the last of the rush hour traffic as quickly as he could.

Stuart used one hand to brace himself as the car swerved around the slower traffic. He had long since gotten used to riding like this and didn’t look up from his work as they rushed downtown. “I know she would. That’s why I changed.” He smoothed his tie down and adjusted his belt. “But it still annoys me. I’ve been to charity events before. The suit I was wearing earlier should have been fine. I’ve obviously missed something about tonight.” Stuart saw Dean duck his head in a half nod. Dean had worked for him for years and knew how much he hated not knowing something. Stuart had an overwhelming desire to understand everything. And an intellect that allowed him to do so. It was that intellect that had allowed him to amass a small fortune by the time he was in his early twenties using the stock market. Then he had started investing in people instead of stocks. He had found the brightest minds and invested in them to make their ideas into reality. Not all of them had been successes, but enough of them had that he quickly and quietly became a millionaire several times over. And he had done it before reaching thirty. He knew a lot of it had been luck, but for the most part it had been his ability to find good people to work with, and to work for him. I’ve been blessed to have the right people in my life. Without all of them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

His personal phone rang and he glanced at it, then smiled and answered it. “Hello Sheila. I was just thinking about you.”

“Good thoughts, I hope.” Her cheerful voice responded.

“Of course they were. So what’s up?”

“I hear you’re going to some high end gala thing tonight. I was wondering if you were going as Superman or Clark Kent.”

Stuart laughed at that. “I’m wearing an Italian tailored suit tonight, so I suppose as Superman.”

“Good.” Sheila purred into the phone. “Paula got my message.”

“What do you mean? What did you tell Paula?”

“Don’t worry, dear. It’s nothing bad. I just decided I would help out that charity of yours too.”

Stuart sat up straighter at that. “You only call me dear when you’re about to do something terrible.” Sheila was the best programmer he had ever met. But that was just her day job. What she excelled at was hacking. “What did you find out about the charity group, Sheila? And what did you do?”

“What I found out about Thrive is that they are completely on the up and up. No hidden payrolls. No deceptions. No hidden agendas or political affiliations. They are pretty much what they say that are. Except…” She trailed off.

“Except what?” He asked.

“Well they aren’t doing as well as they appear to be on the surface. They’re a great bunch of people, doing a really good thing, but they are barely scraping by. Considering where the charity president lives and how much of a pay cut she has given herself recently I doubt she can even pay her own bills. This woman believes in her cause so much she is putting everything she has into tonight’s gala, probably hoping to make enough to make up for it. But if tonight doesn’t go well, she’s going to go under. Not just her charity. Her shelter will close. All those women will be homeless. She’ll lose her own house as well.”

Stuart sighed and closed his eyes. “That’s better and worse news than I expected. I assume you have a plan. Or you’ve already done something. So what is it?” He knew that under her brash and sassy exterior Sheila had a soft heart. He was just afraid she might have gone too far in her desire to help. She didn’t always think her plans through all the way when she was on one of her crusades.

“Well, I might have spread that information around to the right groups and maybe I hit up a few boards asking for donations. And maybe I sent some information to news organizations to get their story out. And a congressman or two. Or several.”

Stuart chuckled at that. “That all sounds like very good things to me. She needs all the help she can get in order to help other people. You done good, Sheila.”

“Just remember that.” There was a mischievous tone in her voice now.

“What else did you do?”

“Well, see, they are having a charity auction tonight. And they didn’t get as much merchandise as they had hoped. Some jerk backed out at the last minute and left them high and dry. Don’t worry, I already took care of him. But they needed something to replace him so…”

“If you’re asking if I can put something up to auction, go ahead. As if you haven’t already.”

“Well, of course I have already. It’s easier to ask forgiveness than get permission.”

“And since you called me, I’m guessing it’s something of mine. What kind of auction is it? And what did you promise?”

“It’s a bachelor auction. And I’m glad you’re so giving. Because you’re on the list now. Which is why I made sure you’re dressed for it. Remember, it’s for a good cause so have fun!”

Before Stuart could even think of a response the line went dead. Stuart sat, still holding his phone to his ear and staring straight ahead. “Why do I keep putting up with her, Dean?” He wondered out loud.

“Is something wrong? Do we need to stop somewhere to pick something up, sir?”

“No. Keep driving. Apparently I’m the merchandise for auction tonight.” Wisely, Dean didn’t respond. “Maybe it’s a good thing I won’t know anyone there tonight except Tara.” He grumbled under his breath, already trying to think of ways to get back at Sheila.

Before he could come up with a suitably evil plan the car came to a stop. Stuart sighed, realizing how dreadful the night was going to be. Dean walked around and opened the door, then stood back and waited for him to get out. Stuart paused, trying to think of a way to get out of the obligations that had been thrust upon him.


Stuart looked up, taking in Dean’s perfectly pressed suit that he always wore. “I don’t suppose you want to go in and be me for the night.”

“Not for any amount of money, sir. Your life is too stressful.”

“That it is. That it is.” With a grunt he levered himself up out of the car. “I’ll get this over with. Stay close. I’m getting out of here just as soon as I can.”

“Yes, sir.” Dean said, showing no expression at all.

He walked inside the building, knowing Dean was trying not to laugh. He rarely came to events like this. Not that he didn’t give to charity. He gave generously. He just didn’t like making a spectacle of it. But this time he personally knew the woman in charge. And he had a personal interest in helping the victims of domestic abuse. He had never had to deal with it himself, but not too long ago he had found out that a close friend had been a victim of it. She had been too embarrassed to ask for help until it had gotten really bad. His blood boiled every time he remembered her face when she spoke of the bruises. She was a strong woman and she managed to take care of it herself with only a little help from a friend. But not every woman was so lucky. Stuart wanted to make sure those women had a place to go when they decided to leave. This charity would give them that. So despite how embarrassed he might feel about it, he couldn’t just leave.

And Sheila knew I wouldn’t back out. Which is why she knew she could get away with this. I am going to have to think of something truly evil to get back at her. Like hand out her personal number to one of her clients.

That thought was enough to bring a smile to his face as he entered the upscale restaurant where the event was being held. It wilted just as quickly as he looked around. It was a large open area, with a raised dais in one corner. Small colonnades made two rows on either side of the room behind which people gathered in small groups to talk privately, ignoring the charity information that was on display there. Small tables topped with crisp white linen dotted the floor, leaving plenty of room for people to walk around and socialize. Impeccably dressed staff made slow rounds, carry wines and finger foods on silver trays. Faces were painted with smiles

Standing in the doorway he could see everyone in attendance. And he realized that’s why most of these people were here. They were here to see and be seen. People were posed, standing or sitting, quietly watching everyone else. They don’t care about the charity. They just want to seem charitable. Looks like I’ll be standing over by the bar until it’s time to get auctioned off. No, these people are going to be hitting the free bar all night. They’ve been here less than an hour and already most of them are drunk. He watched as a man carefully placed a hand on the table, steadying himself as he stood up, and headed for the bar with an empty glass in hand. A room full of drunk socialites. And I’m going to end up going on a date with one of them. He kept his face blank and he strode into the room, not making eye contact with anyone as he headed for the bar himself.

The drunk was getting his refill as he approached. The man tapped his glass against the empty tip jar and said, “Cheers.” Not bothering to look at Stuart or the bartender he made a slow path back to his table. The bartender looked over as Stuart approached, sliding a napkin in front of him. “What can I get for you, sir?” He asked in a flat tone.

“Double whiskey on the rocks.” With neat, fluid motions his drink was poured and set in front of him. Stuart picked up the glass with a nod of thanks and dropped two ten dollar bills in the jar. It was an excessive tip, and he knew it. But he also knew it would work as seed money. People were less likely to ignore the tip jar if it wasn’t empty. The bartender smiled and nodded back at him. Looking for a place to stand away from the glittering, gibbering masses, Stuart slowly sipped his drink.

As his gaze traveled over the crowd he saw a face he thought he recognized. A woman in a simple black dress was standing next to a pillar. Like him, she seemed to be watching everyone around without attracting any attention. She stood alone, with one arm wrapped around her waist and the other one holding a champagne flute that was more than half full. She struck him as elegant, poised. She didn’t appear to be having a good time, but she still kept a pleasant, if bland, expression on her face. A waitress approached causing her to turn enough for him to see that her dress had no back. She was bare from her neck down to her waist. While the rest of her was covered from the collar around her neck down to her knees, that exposed flesh caused a tingle to run through him. He watched, enraptured, while she smiled and thanked the server and took a single tartlet.

Holding it with her napkin she ate it delicately, then folded the napkin away into her hand and out of sight. That motion brought back a memory. The night he had met her at Mandy’s she had done the same thing. He glanced at her face again. Sure enough, it’s Leslie Burgess. What is she doing here? Why would she come to an event like this? Unless… That’s right. She’s friends with Tara. And Tara is the head of the charity. She’s probably here to help her friend out. He tore his eyes away from the captivating sight, looking around for her friend. He didn’t see her anywhere around. She’s here alone. I’m here alone. I may as well keep her company. Maybe some good can come from this after all.

A gentle smile replaced the stern look he had kept on his face since his arrival. His stride was loose as he walked over. If Sheila had been here she would have called him Clark Kent as he folded away his brusque business attitude. Glad to see a friendly face, Stu walked over to say hi.

Chapter 2

Leslie Burgess looked around the crowded dining hall. Dozens of people were standing around in groups, talking with friends or business acquaintances. Everyone was dressed in formal attire and she blended right in, if you didn’t check the label on her dress. The only real difference was that most of them were rich. She was far from poor, but she also knew that if it wasn’t her friend that was putting this shindig together there was no way she would have been able to attend it. She glanced down at the champagne glass in her hand. There’s certainly no way I would be able to buy something this good. It’s too bad I’m here for Tara and can only have the one. She took a tiny sip, relishing the swirl of flavors and sighed.

This was the first time in a long time that she had a chance to dress up and go out on the town. The food was delicious, the drinks were plentiful, and she was surrounded by chattering people. And I am so bored. Who knew people this rich could be so boring? I haven’t met a single person I can have an actual conversation with. They all seem to be so busy preening for each other that nothing else matters. It’s like watching a moving painting instead of a crowd of real live people. Except a painting has more depth than these people have.

“Are you bored too?” A masculine voice whispered from behind her. Startled, Leslie jerked away. “Sorry about that.” He laughed as he stepped around to stand in front of her. “I didn’t mean to sneak up on you. I just saw you standing here. You looked like you could use someone to talk to. And so could I.”

“Stu? What are you doing here?” She barely knew him but the few times they had met, he had struck her as a sweet, down to Earth guy. They had first met at Mandy’s engagement party. He had teared up when Kurt announced him as best man. She had found that endearing. As soon as she had a chance she had struck up a conversation with him and they had spent the rest of the night talking. She couldn’t imagine what a guy like him was doing here. Tara had left her on her own as soon as the event started. She wasn’t sure what was up with her best friend, but she had been in a panic all week. After getting an email about an hour ago she had calmed down a little, but she was certainly more stressed than normal. “Oh, did Tara rope you into coming too?”

“Something like that yeah. She told me about it last month. But I’m really here representing my company. The brass thought it would look good to start working with local charities. So here I am.” Stuart didn’t like the lie that fell so easily from his lips. He took comfort in the fact that it wasn’t quite a lie. The brass did want him here tonight. He just failed to mention that he was the brass. “What about you? I didn’t think this was your kind of thing.”

“It’s not, really. I never understood the point in spending so much money to try to raise money. But Tara begged me to come as emotional support. So here I am and she’s off wherever it is she needs to be.”

“Well, you’re a welcome sight tonight. I had thought I wouldn’t want to see anyone I knew here. Seeing you made me realize how much I wanted to have at least one friendly face in the crowd.”

“Why is that?”

"Tara didn’t tell you about the main event?"

Leslie shook her head. Her attendance had been so last minute she hadn’t been told anything.

He glanced around to make sure no one could overhear them. "Promise you won't laugh." Leslie nodded, not sure why he needed that reassurance. He looked around again, then leaned in and whispered. "It's a bachelor auction."

Leslie fought to keep a straight face. "And I take it you are one of the bachelors."

With a grimace and a laugh, he nodded. "It was not my idea. One of the department heads signed me up for it. She's always playing pranks, but this is too far. And it's embarrassing."

Leslie nodded, thinking how she would feel if someone had done that to her. With a start, she realized she might find it a little thrilling having men bidding on a date with her. Don't even think like that. That's wrong. Besides, it’s not about me. He's not comfortable with it so you should sympathize. He's your friend after all. Before she could think of anything comforting to say he continued.

"I mean, what if no one bids?" Her jaw dropped and he laughed. "Well I can't get out of it. That much is obvious. And I don’t like the idea of being treated like a commodity. But I also don’t want to go for cheap. How’s that for perverse?” He laughed wryly and shook his head.

“I’m sure plenty of people will bid. And hopefully it won’t be too embarrassing for you.”

"Does that mean you'll bid on me?"

Leslie laughed and shook her head. "I couldn't even swing the price of a ticket to get in here. Tara walked me in. There's no way I could bid against the other people here. Sorry." She could see he was really disappointed with her response. He sighed and looked out at the assembled crowd again. Two smiling women walked by, savagely insulting each other. She patted his arm. "But maybe we can figure something else out."

"Like what?" He frowned as he watched the women flash their multiple rings at each other.

He’s really embarrassed about this. Or maybe he’s just worried? She hadn’t known Stuart very long, but she couldn’t stand the idea of him being upset. They had only spent a few hours together at various social events but he had always had a smile on his face and a joke ready to make her laugh. “Maybe we should build on your perversity.” She laughed when he gave her a startled look. “You’re the one that said it, but it might be a good idea. If people think you really are a pervert it will up your appeal.” Leslie started warming up to the idea even as Stuart cleared his throat and adjusted his tie. “If we spread the rumor that you’re into something kinky that would certainly help you stand out even more. Hmm, but what kind of rumor should we make up? How about…” She hoped her idea was silly enough that it would help him relax, or maybe even laugh. But instead he seemed to be getting even more uncomfortable. He was once again straightening his tie and smoothing it down. “You always wear a cowboy hat to bed.”

His hands stopped moving. “I… what?” He cocked his head to the side as if he hadn’t heard her properly.

“We’ll tell people that you always wear a cowboy hat to bed. And you use a Texas drawl during pillow talk.”

Stuart started chuckling and Leslie grinned, glad her plan was working. He shook his head. “I don’t think--”

“Not kinky enough? Ok how about high heel shoes?” He gave her an incredulous look. “And fishnets?” He shook his head again. “No? Ok how about you always wear a fishnet shirt under your suit. That will get a lot of women bidding just on the hope of getting a peek.”

“You’re stuck on that fishnet idea aren’t you?”

“Have you ever worn fishnet? Everyone gets stuck on it.”

“Is that the voice of experience there?” He teased her, no longer looking so worried.

“It was for a costume party, and Tara picked it out.”

“Blame her if you want, but you still put it on.”

Leslie raised her chin primly, trying not to laugh. “It was a costume party, which makes it acceptable. Besides we’re not talking about me. We’re supposed to be thinking up something for you. You could come up with a few ideas too. It’s your reputation we’re trying to besmirch.”

“Then how about we tell everyone I’m some kind of BDSM fiend with a dungeon in my mansion?”

“Like one of those playboy billionaires in all the books?” Leslie laughed. “That would certainly get everyone bidding. Even I would tempted by something like that.” Realizing what she had just said she cleared her throat and quickly added. “But we need something that people will believe. Sinful but realistic. We could follow that theme and say that you wear leather bondage gear under your business suit.”

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