Home > Bound to the Bachelor (Montana Born Bachelor Auction #1)(9)

Bound to the Bachelor (Montana Born Bachelor Auction #1)(9)
Sarah Mayberry

“If there’s anything I can do for any of you—anything—please let me know.” She pointed at the stairs. “I’ll just… yeah. Good luck.”

She headed for the stairs, patently relieved to be making her escape.

Lily clapped her hands together. “Okay, Jett, you’re up first. Remember to smile. And, you know, work it.”

“Work it,” Ryan said flatly. “What exactly is that supposed to mean?”

“You know what it means,” Lily said, giving him a dry look. “Don’t pretend you don’t. Show off the wares. Flex a bit. Whatever it is you men do when you’re trying to impress a woman.”

“That’s easy – nothing,” Jesse Grey said, and Lincoln snickered.

“Well, tonight, do something. Josh and Molly are depending on you,” Lily reminded them.

After instructing Jett to head downstairs and find his way to the stage, she headed for the bar. Beau couldn’t resist following her.

“How do you know Molly and Josh, anyway?” he asked as he drew up alongside her.

“Molly and I are friends.”

“She’s a school teacher, yeah?” Beau asked.

Lily’s eyes narrowed. “She is. You’re wondering how a nice girl like her got tangled up with a dirty girl like me, Beau?”

Goddammit, she was always so prickly.

“I was just curious how you got roped into organizing all this.”

“Josh is my godson. And I didn’t get roped in. As far as I’m concerned, it’s an honor to be able to do anything to help him and Molly. The way they’ve both handled what life has thrown at them…”

There was an emotional vibration beneath her voice. She blinked a couple of times, then frowned over his shoulder.

“I swear, how you men cross the road without explicit instructions is beyond me,” she muttered, marching off to grab Jett by the elbow and hustle him down the stairs.

Beau stared after her, a frown on his face. He couldn’t work her out. He knew about her past, and he’d seen the offhand, expert way she handled men, as well as the kind of attention she always seemed to attract from the opposite sex. He’d seen how loyal a friend she’d been to Andie, too, and even though he’d die rather than admit it, he suspected Lily had been responsible for the way his younger sister had come out of her shell more and more over the past few years. Hooking up with and marrying Heath, his closest friend, had more or less completed Andie’s transformation, but he credited Lily with getting the ball rolling.

And now there was this new side to her – the tireless volunteer who could make a kid laugh loud enough to be heard over a saloon full of noisy women.

The tap-tap of someone testing a mic sounded over the speakers, drawing him back to the rail and the view of the saloon below. If he craned his neck, he could just see the stage.

A wiry cowboy with sun-leathered skin and a huge rodeo belt buckle was standing at the podium, the overhead lights glinting off his Brylcreemed hair. Buck the cattle auctioneer, Beau guessed.

“Folks, a hearty welcome here this evening, and our thanks to Grey’s management for the opportunity to hold this here inaugural great Marietta bachelor auction in the saloon, because it sure beats holding it at the stock yards. You know the cause, you know the reason. We’re here to make life a little easier for young Josh and his mother, Molly, and to this end we are putting some of the finest breeding stock this district has to offer at your disposal…”

Beau tuned out the rest of Buck’s spiel as his gaze once again found Lily in the crowd. What was it about her that always seemed to draw his eye? Whatever it was, it was damned annoying.

The crowd was laughing at Buck’s auction patter, and Beau could see Jett was enjoying being the center of attention, his smile full of cocky confidence as he looked out at the crowd. Then the auction itself started, Buck’s words becoming nearly indecipherable from one another as he took bids. Beau watched as the offers climbed higher, his eyebrows rising as they passed the two thousand dollar mark. Only then did the bidding slow and finally peter out.

“Is this your last and final bid, are we all silent ladies? All done? And… sold, to the lady in booth three for $2325,” Buck announced with a satisfied thunk of his auctioneer’s gavel.

Beau’s eyebrows shot up as he registered the final bid. Holy hell. That was some serious money. Someone – or several someones – had clearly really wanted what Jett was offering. His belly knotted with sudden nerves. What if he only attracted a few paltry dollars? That would be pretty embarrassing. God, what if no one bid on him at all?

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