It was time for the auction and I was nervous as hell. I hoped that we could raise enough money to buy the bakery together, but I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to.
One thing that I thought about that I knew would bring in some good money would be for me to auction myself. I’d done pretty well the first time I’d auctioned myself. Maybe I could do the same or even better.
But, I’d never be able to bring myself to do it again, not like this. I knew that a large part of the reason that I had done so well had been because it was Elliot who had won. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like with someone else. In fact, the very idea of someone else winning me in an auction turned my stomach.
Or was it the vodka?
Either way, I was starting to feel nauseous. I stepped outside in the back alley to get some fresh air. The wind flowed over me, so strong it almost threatened to knock me over, but the cool blast of air helped settle my roiling belly.
The familiar faces and setting just kept bringing Elliot to the forefront of my mind. I thought about calling him for the millionth time, but I hadn’t found the nerve to go through with it. But I missed him so much it felt like a hole in my chest.
But, my bakery was filling up with people as they shuffled in for the auction, so I needed to pull it together and play hostess. I walked back inside and found my way to the stage. I turned toward the door and I saw him.
I couldn’t believe it. I was sure for a moment that I’d conjured him, or that maybe it was a trick of my imagination, but no, he was here, in the flesh. I started to weave my way through the crowd of people, but before I could get to him, Tammy found me, a look of horror on her face.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, starting to feel worried myself.
“Some of the girls flaked out,” she said. “You and I are going to have to be in the auction or they’re going to have to cancel.”
My heart started racing. I was horrified.
“Tammy, I can’t-“
“Please, Candy, if we don’t, the building is dust,” Tammy pleaded with me.
What choice did I have? Now that it wasn’t just my dream on the line, but both of ours, and refusing would be beyond unfair after suggesting this partnership in the first place.
And I couldn’t bare to see that building torn to the ground, especially after everything else that monster had ruined in my life.
I was going to be in the auction after all.
And I was up next.
Candy and I had locked eyes earlier, and I was sure that she would have been irritated that I had shown up, especially since she had said that she wanted some space. But to my surprise, she wasn’t. Her face had lit up when she laid eyes on me. She had been smiling from ear-to-ear from the moment that I saw her.
And it was eating away at me for some reason.
I had to talk to her. I looked around the room to see if I could spot her. I would pull her into her office and have a talk to her. And maybe more would happen. Who knew?
But, before I could never take a step I heard the announcer’s voice.
“Next up on the docket is our girl, Candy.”
I stopped dead in my tracks. Had I heard that right? Did she say Candy’s name? MY Candy? My head was spinning and my blood boiled.
I was furious. How could she push me away only to auction herself off all over again, to some new stranger? Had I just opened Pandora’s box and now she was hooked on the thrill? I felt like she hadn’t been honest with me or there was something that I was missing.
My anger subsided when I saw the look in her eyes. She looked like she was walking to her execution, a look of determined resignation all over her face.
It was obvious that she didn’t want to do this. So, why was she still trudging forward onto that stage? I wanted to know immediately.
But, before I can think about all of the questions that I had, I needed to claim my girl.
I took my spot in my seat, my paddle in my hand, ready.
“The lovely Miss Candy is auctioning for some lucky guy to have their way with her,” said the announcer.
The crowd was abuzz with excitement. Many were smiling, laughing, and clapping. The excitement was palpable. The bidding commenced and paddles flew. One went up right away in the back. I craned my neck to see who it was, but couldn’t see a face.