Home > Bound to the Bachelor (Montana Born Bachelor Auction #1)(6)

Bound to the Bachelor (Montana Born Bachelor Auction #1)(6)
Sarah Mayberry

If it weren’t so ungenerous and ugly, it would be funny. Clearly, Cora Bartlett and the other Rottweilers had never had a Luther in their lives, someone who had forced them to choose between a bad situation and a worse one. Clearly, they’d never gone hungry for days on end, or been rejected for every menial, low-paying, unskilled job they’d applied for, or been desperate to find a place safe enough to sleep for a few hours.

How very fortunate for them.

Lily tore her gaze away from where Cora and a gaggle of the other Rottweilers were settling into a booth. Frankly, she was surprised they were here, but she wasn’t above taking their money on Josh’s behalf. In fact, she’d squeeze every spare cent she could out of them if she could.

She spotted Molly and Josh then, making their way toward the table Lily had reserved for them. She met them halfway, leaning in to kiss Molly’s cheek, which was still cold from the walk from the car.

“Hey. Sorry we’re so late. Gosh, there are a lot of people here,” Molly said, looking around with wide eyes. “I didn’t know there were this many women in Marietta.”

“I know. Pretty awesome, huh? Ka-ching!” Lily said with a wink.

Molly looked uncomfortable. “You make me feel so mercenary when you do that.”

“Suck it up, sweetheart. We are solving all your problems tonight,” Lily said.

Molly smiled. “Promise? I have a list.”

“Well, maybe not all of them…” Lily turned to Josh, holding out her fist. He matched the gesture and they bumped fists, following up the contact with a series of elaborate hand moves that culminated in a second fist bump that morphed into a slow-motion hand explosion. Their not-so-secret shake, a ritual that had been choreographed and refined over many months.

“You two. One day I am going to work out how to do all that hand origami,” Molly said with a laugh.

Lily became aware that Buck, the auctioneer, was trying to catch her eye over near the stage and she signaled she’d be over in a second.

“You guys get settled. I need to go talk to Buck,” Lily said distractedly, already moving off.

“Is there anything you need me to do?” Molly called after her. “I’m yours to command.”

“Enjoy yourself.” Lily caught Josh’s eye. “And you – look sick and pitiful. The more pitiful the better.”

Josh sucked his cheeks in and drooped in his chair. “How’s this?”

“So good.”

Josh grinned.

“I’ll see you crazy kids later,” Lily promised.

She checked the time on her phone as she wove her way through the tightly-packed crowd to the stage. She was going to kill Beau Bennett when she saw him. Painfully. Slowly.

The thought had barely crossed her mind when she glanced over her shoulder and saw him easing his way through the glut of people blocking the front entrance.

“Thank God,” she breathed.

Then she registered his damp, messy hair, sweat pants and raggedy old sweatshirt.

Sweet baby cheeses, was this his idea of selling himself?

He caught sight of her and altered his course, heading her way. She pressed her lips together and tried to swallow her anger at his tardiness and lack of preparation. She’d known he wasn’t keen on being recruited, but making such a half-hearted effort was insulting, to her and to Josh and Molly.

“Hey. Sorry I’m late. Had an emergency call out at work,” Beau said. “Is there someplace I can change?”

Which was when Lily registered the garment bag draped over his shoulder, the coat hanger hooked on one of his fingers. Apparently he hadn’t let her down after all. Her relief was so profound she momentarily forgot her habitual wariness where he was concerned and offered him a huge smile.

“Beau. Thank God. There’s an empty room off to the side upstairs where you can get changed. We’re about to get this thing started so you’re going to have to hustle.”

Instead of heading off immediately like a good, obedient bachelor, Beau stared at her, his expression unreadable, a strange tension in his shoulders.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

He frowned. “Nothing. Give me five, and I’m all yours.”

He moved off, cutting a path through the sea of very interested ladies, some of whom had recognized him as one of the offerings on tonight’s menu. Lily watched with a wry smile as a table full of women almost fell out of their chairs trying to maintain a sightline on his ass as he made his way to the stairs.

The next five minutes passed in a whirl as she dealt with Buck’s questions and touched base with Reese. Checking her watch, she saw they were already running late, and she raced upstairs to wrangle her bachelors.

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