Part I by Terry Spear
Inwardly, I groaned.
It was supposed to have been last Saturday, not this Saturday! That’s why I had waited another week before coming home. If I didn’t know any better, I would swear Mom had influenced the City Council to change the date to make sure I was home for the summer event.
Shielded by the sun, I hurried under the striped awnings to Mother’s gift store, the old time shops all connected by wooden walkways. Summer fashions and pansy garden gifts decorated the storefront windows and I could hardly wait to share my marketing experiences from classes I’d taken at the university.
As soon as I stepped out of the heat into the shop, the fragrance of lilac candles and the cooled air welcomed me. The bell over the door jingled, but to my surprise, my mother didn’t call out to greet me.
Instead, a large poster displayed smack dab in the center of the counter, proudly announced: Tenth Annual Bachelor Auction!
If my mother bid on Calvin Seersucker again… Well, she just better not.
Widowed for six years, Mom should have been looking for someone to keep herself company, but every time I returned home, she was determined to find Mr. Right—for me. Already, I had a very bad feeling about this.
Part 2 by Michele Ann Young
Mother popped up behind the counter. Her newly frizzed gray hair, fire-engine-red lipstick and a waft of lavender proclaimed she was “going out.”
“Late as usual,” she muttered trotting around the cash desk. She grabbed my arm with red talons and hauled me toward the back exit, the entrance to the Prairie Dog hotel. The site of the auction.
“I’m not going.” I dragged my feet.
“I did the flowers,” she said. “I need your help.”
There was that long e sound. Like the sound of a baby crying for its mother. It hit me in the gut. She turned the knob of the baize-lined door and pulled me into the burgundy plush of the hotel ballroom lobby.
At the door, broad shoulders filling out his pearl-gray waistcoat and black jacket stood Mr. Darcy, back from the past. He beckoned. Blinded by his white ruffled shirt and cravat, I blinked, then couldn't resist a long slow look at a pair of superb thighs encased tight buckskin breeches which ended in a pair of shiny Hessians.
“What?” I croaked."Who?"
“Fantasy men,” Mother said. “He’s umm,” she gazed at the program. “Regency. There’s Fireman, Star Trek—”
“Whoa.” I raised a hand. “You made them dress up? There are more like this?”
Regency-man’s cheek dimpled with his smile. He bowed. “Come in, sweet lady.” His voice hit my chest like brandy and warm honey on a cold night. “Buy me. I’m David.”
My insides turned to liquid. “Oh boy,” I murmured to Mother. “You sure know how to hit a girl where it hurts.”
She handed me my ticket. Salivating I held it out.
Part 3 by Mary Margret Daughtridge
Granbury wasn’t a large town. In years past the auction had always been held in the high school auditorium, where a family atmosphere and lots of good-natured teasing gave the money-raiser the feeling of a Sadie Hawkins Day joke. The town wasn’t long on eligible men, either. A couple of years, some of the bachelors had been teenagers, and once, the ten-year-old grandson of the president of the bank. His two grandmothers bidding against each other had been the highlight of the evening.
I had already guessed that by moving the auction to the hotel ballroom, its sponsors signaled they intended things to be different this year, but a Fantasy Man theme? Come on. Granbury wasn’t the kind of place where people had fantasies. Granbury was middle America at its most middle—a fact that had driven me to the big city as soon as I finished school.
I had wanted the kind of place where people dared to live large. I had wanted excitement, thrills, drama. Men in Armani suits and women in deep décolleté black dresses. Sports cars and limousines, and scintillating conversation with men who had mysterious dark eyes and an aura of danger.
At the door to the ballroom, Millicent Froedisher, in the same taupe suit she’d worn to church for years, took my ticket. Beside her, a man, in a formfitting cobalt jumpsuit emblazoned with racing sponsor logos, flashed me a daredevil grin. When I gasped, audibly, he winked. “My friends call me ‘Speedy’—but I’m not, if you know what I mean.” He dipped his head slightly causing a lock of black hair to fall over his eyes. “Buy me.”
Part 4 by Marie Force
I choked back the urge to throw up in my mouth, muttered, “Slow down, Speedy,” and took a seat next to my mother. Pretending to be absorbed in the program, I watched “Speedy” practice his hair over-the-eyes, low-voiced “buy me” spiel with a couple of other twittering fools who would no doubt duke it out over him in the auction.
In need of something to do so I wouldn’t be tempted to watch Speedy work the room, I buried my nose in the program. The Navy guy was kind of cute as was the football dude. I flipped to the next page, and my heart literally staggered in my chest. Carpenter guy—oh my God! David Delany, my mad high school crush, the one who had occupied every single one of my schoolgirl fantasies, the one I had given myself to in the back of his father’s Dodge junior year, my first—and only—love...
Apparently startled by the rough tone of my voice, she turned. “What? Why are you pale and pasty all of a sudden?”
“David Delany?” I croaked.
All innocence, she said, “Oh, did I forget to tell you he’s back in town?”
“Gee, he’s been back three, maybe four months now. I saw his mother the other day, and she said his sister had roped him into this auction deal.” She leaned in for a better look at my program. “He’s aged well, huh?”
That was putting it mildly. His dark hair fell over his forehead in sexy dishevelment that Speedy could only hope to one day achieve. Piercing golden brown eyes captivated me, the same way they had all those years ago. Realizing my conniving mother was at it again, I somehow managed to nod while fighting the sudden urge to be very, very sick.
Part 5 by Loucinda McGary
But just when I thought I couldn’t get any sicker, I heard an unmistakable giggle that grated on every last nerve ending in my body. I watched in horror filled fascination along with everyone else, as a woman with Texas-big platinum blond hair and even bigger, if phony, tatas strolled to the front of the room. My adolescent nemesis, Candy Froedisher Martinelli.
We had been friends in junior high school, but when we got to high school, suddenly Candy was Miss Popularity, head cheerleader, homecoming queen, the works, while I remained behind in my somewhat nerdy corner. Bad enough that I was often the object of her giggling, whispered innuendos, but her ultimate betrayal came when she lured David Delany -my David- away to be her date for the Senior prom.
While the rest of us had gone off to college and studied things like journalism or criminal justice, Candy had gone to Miami Beach to major in Trophy Wife 101. Her first husband, or so I’d heard, was a minor Mafia enforcer. Freddie “The Pistol” Pestorini liked big boobs and gaudy gold jewelry, and he supplied Candy with both, until she cast her eyes on bigger fish in the pond.
Her second husband had children older than Candy, and was a Mafia kingpin who had died under mysterious circumstances six months ago. According to the news report I’d read, Carlo Martinelli’s body washed up on the Jersey shore with his wrists and ankles shackled. The local police and the FBI had made no arrests, but I would bet my mother’s last petunia that the grieving widow was implicated up to her thickly mascaraed eyelashes.
Eyelashes she was now batting flirtatiously at David Delany--my David!
“That brazen hussy!” My mother hissed near my ear, and I realized that she had been watching the whole spectacle too, along with most everyone else in the room.
Part 6 by Christina Harlin
My ire turned to horror when Candy fixed her predatory gaze in my direction. Her voice echoed off the ballroom’s high ceiling. “David, look who came home! We haven’t seen you in years!”
I could hardly refuse her beckoning claw. Everyone was watching. I rose, painfully aware that my clothes were wrinkled from travel, and that I had just fallen out of my car, with no chance to brush my hair or check my makeup. Was I even wearing makeup? I approached them feigning delight.
“Oh, aren’t you a sight?” cried Candy, clutching one of David’s impressively firm-looking biceps as she eyed me. “I admire women with the courage to completely ignore how they look. That takes such confidence! Didn’t I always say I admired her confidence?” The breathtaking David looked apologetic, but I hated the thought that he might say something sympathetic.
I plastered a beaming smile on my face. “Isn’t this fun? I never imagined I’d be surrounded by romantic heroes.”
“Makes me want to be a damsel in distress,” purred Candy, glancing at David. To ensure he couldn’t get a word in edgewise, she blurted at me, “But you would never bid.”
On impulse I said, “Of course I would. It’s for a good cause. I had my eye on. . .” I looked wildly around, seizing the hand of the fantasy bachelor unluckily gliding past. I saw only a black cape, so he must be Zorro, or a vampire. “This one!”
The caped man turned, and I found myself blinking into the surprised face of Calvin Seersucker.
Part 7 by Cheryl Brooks
Except that he wasn’t the Calvin I remembered. This Calvin had morphed into some sort of exotic alien being—half Vulcan, and half . . . something. As his expression of surprise turned to one of naked lust, I nearly choked on my own spit.
“C-Calvin?” I stammered. “I didn’t—”
“Recognize me?” he said. “I thought not. After all, you’ve never given me the time of day.” His deep blue eyes were as hot as molten steel as they swept my body up and down. Funny how I’d never noticed them before. Must have been the tantalizing Vulcan eyebrows. Yeah, that was it. It was the eyebrows . . . and the ears—or maybe the cape. Calvin had certainly never affected me this way! I felt the searing heat from his eyes burn me down to ash.
“Don’t be silly!” I said, my voice suddenly high-pitched and girlish. “We’ve always been . . . friends.” I felt like an absolute idiot. This was Calvin Seersucker, for heaven’s sake! Nerdy little Calvin, who would have been much more at home at a Star Trek convention than at a bachelor auction.
“Yes,” he said. Even his voice sounded different—deeper, more masculine and seductive. “We’ve always been friends.” The emphasis he put on the word friends made it sound like an obscenity, which is probably the way most men feel about it when a woman they lust after says they just want to be “friends.”
Wait a minute. Lust after? Impossible! Calvin didn’t feel lust! Not for anyone. Well, maybe for a Romulan princess, but not me—oh, surely not me!
Candy made some sort of noise—which, if I’d been a more catty woman, I’d have said was a snort.
Part 8 by Kendra Leigh Castle
“Well, umm…good luck with that, sweetie,” Candy cooed, her wide smile about as heartwarming as a barracuda’s bared teeth. “I’m sure you’ll really have to shell out for that one.” She leaned in close, and in a conspiratorial stage whisper that was doubtless heard across half the town, confided, “Good thing Carlo left me set for life.” She patted her enormous Luis Vuitton purse. “I’m sure David’s going to cost me a fortune. But as you and I both know…he’s well worth it.”
I caught David’s wince out of the corner of my eye, and felt a moment of hope that enormous hair, leopard print halters and painted-on jeans weren’t really his thing these days. He opened his mouth to say something, those honey-colored eyes fixed on me, but Candy was having none of it.
“Oh David, look! It’s Wendy Marstellars and Lauri Gruber! You just have to show them your sexy Fantasy Man getup!” With a final venomous smile, Carly hooked her claws into David once again and dragged him off. I sighed as I watched them make their way towards Wendy and Lauri, who, to their credit, were watching Candy’s approach with naked horror. David followed sheepishly. I shook my head, watching his still adorable, yet retreating, backside. Had he always been this wimpy?
I felt Calvin come up beside me, watching them go.
“Apparently they didn’t offer brain implants at the place she got everything else done.” His voice, deep and smooth, was so unlike the pitchy pubescent tones of our youth that I had to remind myself it was shrimpy, nerdy Calvin I was talking to.
“Yeah, well, from the looks of things they would have overcompensated and her head would now be the size of a beach ball,” I laughed, turning to look at him. Look up at him, that was. Since when had Calvin gotten to be over six feet tall? Come to think of it, when was the last time I’d really looked at Calvin, period? His blue eyes were still cool when they gazed down at me from beneath those bizarre Vulcan eyebrows he had going on. Still, I couldn’t help but notice that beneath the weird stage makeup, something very strange had happened to the kid who had once been stuffed into his locker on a regular basis for wearing a Star Trek communicator pin. And my mouth, as always, kicked into gear before I thought better of it.
“You know, if you ditched the Spock brows, you’d actually be kind of hot.”
Oh my God, I did not just say that… I did not just THINK that…
Calvin, not seeming to notice my inner turmoil, just frowned down at me, obviously intrigued. “Really? What’s wrong with the eyebrows?”
“They look like caterpillars about to mate,” I sighed, and when he looked more affronted than receptive, I took matters into my own hands. “Here,” I said. “If you just did this…” I reached up and pulled off the offending brows as easily as I might have ripped off a couple of band-aids. Fortunately, most of his actual eyebrow hair stayed in place, a miracle with the amount of glue he’d used.
I stepped back and surveyed my handiwork. And despite the bleeding, which really wasn’t very bad, I was even more pleasantly surprised at what I saw. Calvin Seersucker, beneath the layers of costumed geekiness, was definitely not an ugly duckling anymore.
“Now for the ears and cape,” I said, ignoring the mulish expression he gave me in return. “Come on. Hand them over. You can’t be a Vulcan Zorro starship captain.”
“Hey, this is fantasy,” he reminded me, crossing his arms over a chest that I tried really hard not to notice had spent some serious time at the gym lately.
I did my best to look down my nose at him, despite the height difference. It failed miserably, but I think I got the point across.
“What you’re wearing is not fantasy,” I pointed out. “What you’re wearing is some kind of bad Trekkie acid trip. You do want to get bid on, right?”
Calvin cocked his head at me, considering, a question in his eyes. But before he could say anything, another hand gripped my arm, and a warm, familiar voice whispered in my ear. “You are going to bid on me…aren’t you?”
Part 9 by Linda Wisdom
Gulp! Breathe, just breathe. In. Out. In. Out.
I spun around with a big smile on my lips. At least, I think I was smiling and not looking like the idiot I was feeling like more and more.
“Rick!” I thought I’d seen pretty much every fantasy in the ballroom until now. OMG! It was Captain Jack Sparrow without the lack of personal and dental hygiene. Oh no, this one smelled like Old Spice, and when you think about it, it fit. Rick’s surfer blond hair was covered with the black dreads and tri-cornered hat and he even sported the black eye liner, which actually looked very sexy on him. YUM! “Look at you!” And believe me, I did. Even under the heavy clothing you could see what looked like a long and lean runner’s body.
He looked a bit embarrassed. “Your mother.”
I nodded as I wondered how she managed to persuade, or blackmail, the town dentist into dressing up as Johnny Depp although at the moment I was doing a Johnny who? shuffle. “’Nuff said. You look like the real deal.” My fingers were already itching to pop up into the air with “I bid my life’s blood for this pirate!” I already mentally calculated what I could pull from my Visa and MasterCard. I only hoped that Carly didn’t have a Black AmEx. Knowing her, she’d bid big time on every man just because she could.
I have never been a slut, but at the moment, with all these prime men milling around the room, I felt as if I was rapidly moving into Carly’s territory. Take that and your Louis Vuitton purse too! Give me an hour, or three, with makeup and hair and I could give you a run for your implants and liposuction. So many men, so little time was much more than a saying.
Except Rick was looking at me like he was on a diet and I was the biggest hot fudge sundae in the world. No, wait a minute, that was me!
“Soooo, how’s the town’s favorite dentist?” I mentally winced, convinced I sounded about as perky as a person could sound. I needed coffee … a lot of it. Instead, I snagged a glass of wine from a passing waiter.
“Doing good.” Wait a minute! He was giving me a once over and not the she looks worn out, but the I like what I see. I couldn’t stop smiling.
Rick looked up when someone called his name and he looked genuinely reluctant as he started to move away. I seriously thought about dragging him off to an empty room where I’d be singing Hoist the Colors. What can I say? I’ve seen the movies too many times to count. He rested his fingers on my arm and leaned in, his lips barely touching my ear as he whispered…..
Part 10 by Terry Spear
Rick rested his fingers on my arm and leaned in, his lips barely touching my ear as he whispered, “Bid for me and I’ll sail you far away from all this.”
He winked and shivers of expectation stole up my spine. I could just envision sailing in the Gulf with Rick, minus the dreadlocks, making a stop at South Padre Island, wading in the pristine water while colorful fish darted around our legs, where cottony sand beaches awaited us and then…then…I saw him—
Be still my heart, ‘twas none other than Robert McCrory decked out in a blue and green belted plaid kilt, renaissance-looking soft leather boots, and no shirt, wicked man. Only a sash draped across his bronzed, muscular torso, hiding a wee bit o’ his well-sculpted chest. And a gold bracer caressed his bicep, like I wanted to do. Just to see if he was really as strong as he appeared to be. His green eyes captured mine, held me hostage, and challenged me to join him.
“Uhm, Rick, I’ll be right back.” Maybe.
The gold bracer alone that Robert wore would probably break my bank account, but to buy the whole man? I sighed. Now, if he offered to take me to the Highlands—to a castle, better yet—I’d promise him anything.
Wanton woman that I was. Okay, I was so not into bachelor auctions, but the bachelors they were auctioning this year were a feast for the eyes, and could do serious damage to my pocketbook.
My gaze strayed to the fur-covered sporran at his waist, and then to the sword hanging at his side. I closed my gaping mouth and my eyes shifted again to his face. His lips curved up and his eyes sparkled like the devil. Yeah, every bit of him hooked me.
I couldn’t help it. My Scottish ancestry was calling to me—take him, the Highlander laird of Granbury. Take him!
Part 11 by Michele Ann Young
Between me and my highlander lay two round tables full of drooling women. Oh, for super powers. A single bound would come in handy about now.
I tripped over a mailed foot—mailed foot? I double-took the knight kneeling at the feet of a seated Gladys Bellyard, big and beautiful, a gorgeous red sequined top clinging to her ample endowments. The blue-eyed, blond-haired, knight could not keep his gaze from her magnificent cleavage as she removed her chiffon scarf and tied it to his...ummm lance.
Orlando Bloom did bachelor auctions? Who knew?
“Excuse me,” I said, one eye on my Highlander. Oh no, boob-girl, Candy, was also making a bee-line for him, her hand still firmly on David’s tool-belt as she dragged him along.
“My lady,” knight-dude said glancing up. “I doth impede your progress.” He smiled and clanked to his feet, his mail-clad shoulders a solid wall of metal at eye level. He gave a courtly bow as I passed.
Hot. I was hot. He was hot. Could somebody open a window? I fanned my hand in front of my face.
Now where did I put that Highlander? I scanned the room. Regency-man David caught my eye as he peeled a teenager off his chest. He made one of those American idol phone me signs and waggled his brows. Oh Lord, it was all his fault I was in here.
Feedback screeched through the room. I covered my ears. Some bald idiot was tapping the microphone up on stage. The mayor. He mopped his face, then the top of his head.
“Ladies,” he squeaked. Then coughed. “Ladies.” His voice came out two octaves lower. “Time for the catwalk. Bachelors, please line up to the right.”
Disappointed mutters filled the room. I thought I heard sucking sounds, as if octopi were releasing their prey.
I sank into the nearest chair. The sight of so much eye candy in a line was just too much to handle standing on my feet.
Now for the real fun. The bidding.
Part 12 by Mary Margret Daughtridge
The mayor explained the bidding rules, while behind him, the bachelors struck manly poses to match their costumes.
Regency David swept a bow, and Captain Jack, the dentist, braced his legs wide on his imaginary deck. David the Carpenter Guy hooked thumbs over his tool belt, an action which—not accidentally—made the wide leather perfectly frame his...uhm,hardware.
Next, the knight drew his heavy broadsword, intending, I think, to pose with it in his mailed fist. But without warning, the nose-guard-thing on his helmet slammed down, blocking his peripheral vision. Carpenter David diagnosed the helmet’s loose screw and triumphantly whipped out a screwdriver. The crowd roared and clapped.
Hearing applause, Calvin thought it was his turn. He extended his fingers in the Vulcan “Live long and prosper” greeting, then remembered his ears and eyebrows were gone.
Nobody could say Calvin wasn’t flexible. He switched to his Zorro alter-ego, drew his sword and slashed a Z into the air. Beside him, the knight was still trying to get his nose-guard back up. He was none too steady on his feet, and he stumbled into the path of Calvin-Zorro’s rapier.
With all that armor the knight wasn’t hurt of course. But just at that moment, he finally got his eyes clear and saw one man slashing at him with a fencing blade, and another brandishing a screwdriver. He hoisted his broadsword in clear challenge.
“Ach, ye braw laddies!” exulted the Highlander as he snatched a claymore from his belt. “That’s muir like it!”
Speedy was more succinct. “Fight!” he yelled. And slugged the quarterback.
Part 13 by Marie Force
From his place on the floor, the quarterback raised a long, muscled leg and caught Speedy right where he lived. With a howl of righteous indignation, Speedy clutched his, um, junk, and dropped to his knees. Infuriated by the quarterback's audacity, the Highlander got into a screaming fight with the pirate, who took the quarterback's side. The ensuing rumble sucked in everyone except for David Delany, who deftly sidestepped Calvin Seersucker as he jumped into the fray.
The auctioneer banged his gavel on the dais while the audience of stunned women watched the brawl with fascination and, in the case of Candy, titillation. The public safety bachelors, policeman and fireman, blew whistles that caught the attention of the fools on the floor.
"Enough already," policeman said.
Behind me, I heard someone whisper, "Oh, I want him...."
It took a few minutes, but the public safety bachelors managed to restore some semblance of order. The Highlander's fur-covered sporran now sat on his hip, and Rick stood up with an outraged expression on his face. "You busted out my freaking tooth!" he screamed at Calvin.
"Well, you're a dentist," Calvin retorted. "Fix it."
Rick reached up and pulled the fake Vulcan tip off Calvin's ear and threw it at him. It missed Calvin, bounced off the pirate's forehead and sailed into the audience, landing right in my lap.
With his screwdriver still in his hand, David reached for the stray ear tip. "I'll take that, sweetheart," he said with a private smile for me. "I've got some putty in my toolbox that will fix that right up."
The woman behind me sighed. "I've changed my mind," she said. "Get me that one."
"Not so fast," I replied, my eyes locked on David. "I'll start the bidding at two-hundred fifty dollars."
"We have two-fifty," the relieved auctioneer said. "Do I hear two seventy-five?"
Part 14 by Christina Harlin
Bidding volleyed between me and other hopefuls until we had upped David’s value to five hundred dollars, and I wondered how quickly I could transfer my savings into my checking account.
Then Candy’s cry pierced the air. “Four thousand dollars!”
The room hushed in combined reverence and horror. Lauri Gruber at last said, “God, Candy, that’s not fair!”
“Is this an auction or not?” snapped Candy.
The mayor’s face was alight. Four thousand was a more than the past year’s auction had raised altogether. I closed my eyes in middle-class income misery as the mayor declared, “David Delany, going once, twice, SOLD! For four thousand dollars!”
Candy pointed a deadly fingernail at the rather pale carpenter on stage. “You’re mine now!”
“I’m afraid not,” said a new bachelor, stepping lithely from behind the line of disheveled and doubled-over fantasy men. He pulled a badge from the inner pocket of his austere suit. “Agent Smith, FBI. Mrs. Martinelli, I’m taking you into custody.”
FBI-Agent had not worked as hard on his costume as the others, but his tough-guy impact was hard to ignore. His steely gaze was so determined that a ripple of hormones surged through the already-titillated room of women.
“No, take me into custody!” begged Wendy Marstellars. “Two hundred for Agent Smith!”
“Two-ten!” shouted another voice, and the bidding was on again, fueled by estrogen. I glanced at my mother, who shrugged, then to the mayor, who looked helpless. The auction had spun out of his control. FBI-Agent’s value reached three hundred dollars when Candy shrieked out another astronomical sum of money.
“You already got your bachelor!” several women yelled at Candy.
“There is no bachelor limit!” Candy shouted back, indicating with a flourish of her checkbook that she could afford them all.
“Shut up!” bellowed Agent Smith thunderously. The room silenced once again while the glowering agent made his way off stage and stalked to Candy. Only then did I notice that two other dark-suited men had approached her from behind.
“Candy Martinelli,” announced Agent Smith, “you are under arrest, for conspiracy to commit the murder of Carlo Martinelli.”
As if it held her will to fight, Candy’s checkbook dropped to the floor. While the backup agents cuffed her, she whined in dismay, but Agent Smith ignored her. He found Wendy Marstellars in the crowd and passed her a business card. “Call me,” he said, smiling at Wendy’s profuse blush. “No bid necessary.”
Meekly the mayor asked, “Can we keep the four thousand dollars?” And David Delany asked, "What happens to me now?"
Part 15 by Loucinda McGary
Agent Smith extended his hand to David. “You can go back to your regular duties with the Texas state police, Officer Delany. But rest assured that your undercover work in helping us with this case will be duly noted.” He shook David’s hand and then Speedy’s. “As will yours, Officer Gonzalez. We’d have never cracked this case without your assistance."
“But do we still get to be part of the auction?” Speedy asked, waggling his dark brows in Lauri Gruber’s direction.
“We’re on duty, Speed,” David admonished, but with an unmistakably apologetic look in my direction.
“You’re always such a killjoy, D.D.” Speedy grumbled. “But at least I got to dress like a NASCAR driver. This undercover work is cool!”
“About the four thousand dollars?” the mayor ventured again.
“Sorry sir,” said one of the other agents, whom I realized was dressed as a policeman and had intervened in the fight moments earlier. “But all Mrs. Martinelli’s assets are temporarily frozen, by order of the IRS.”
“That would be me,” chimed in the Highlander, pulling an ID badge from his sporran. “Special agent Robert McCrory, IRS. However, I am staying for the remainder of the auction.” He looked directly at me, green eyes twinkling, as he replaced his badge.
Icy fear raced down my spine as McCrory turned a narrow eyed glare at Rick aka Captain Jack. “There are certain other businesses in town that may require my attention.”
Twitching with terror, or maybe he was still into his Captain Jack persona, Rick backed timidly into line with the other bachelors, while the mayor looked crestfallen.
As the three FBI agents hustled a subdued Candy away, Calvin Seersucker stepped forward, his black cape swirling behind his shoulders. “I’ll gladly donate the four thousand, Mr. Mayor. As long as I’m the next bachelor who goes up for bid.”
The mayor’s jaw dropped and mine did too.
Four thousand??? Calvin?!?!
Calvin tilted his head and smiled like the cat who’d just finished off the canary. “It hasn’t been made public yet, but I recently completed negotiations for the sale of my private internet social network Space World to MacroGross for one point four million.” He swept a half-bow in McCrory’s direction, “After taxes.”
Part 16 by Cheryl Brooks
It took a moment for my brain to catch up. He had to be kidding! Calvin, nerdy little Calvin, a millionaire? Was this part of the auction or was it real?
The mayor was still staring open-mouthed at him, just like everyone else when Lauri Gruber piped up from the audience: “He’s making that up!”
But I didn’t think so. Anyone who could cough up four thousand dollars for charity had to have plenty of dough stashed away somewhere....
To recap the action, David Delaney was out, the Highlander was an IRS agent—no way was I touching him! Rick was missing a front tooth and would soon be on the run from the Highlander, and Calvin was missing an ear. Regency David was still in—though charmingly disheveled, like Darcy after his dip in the lake—but the knight still couldn’t keep his nose guard up, so it was impossible to tell what he looked like. Speedy was out—no great loss—and the quarterback looked like the loser after a very rough game. The fireman and policeman were the real thing—or were they?
The mayor looked confused but four thousand dollars was nothing to sneeze at. “Up next, Calvin Seersucker as—” He paused to look Calvin up and down. “What are you?”
“I’m a Trekkie,” Calvin said proudly. “William Shatner once told us all to get a life—so I did.”
“And you did very well, I must say,” the mayor said, beaming at him. “So, ladies! What am I bid for the Trekkie who got a life?”
I had to admit, even after the fight, Calvin looked damn good. Looking at him from one side, he was all tough-guy starship captain, and from the other, a Vulcan diplomat—both of them built like brick shithouses. It was like getting two bachelors for the price of one. Then Calvin looked me right in the eyes and smiled, sending me into mental meltdown mode.
Mother gave me a nudge. “So, bid already!”
Suddenly, my hand was in the air. “Five hundred dollars!”
Part 17 by Kendra Leigh Castle
Mom beamed. I tried to ignore it. After all, the woman had been trying to get me to take a look at Calvin for years. It’s so annoying when she’s right. And wow, I had to admit, was she ever. Calvin didn’t even wait to hear if there were any other bids, just swept toward me wearing that sexy feline grin I was sure I could get used to seeing on a regular basis. The tattered remnants of the wildest bachelor auction in our little town’s history staggered to make way for him. The quarterback was walking with a definite limp, I noticed, and the knight, finally giving up on his malfunctioning costume, tore his helmet off and hurled it away from him with a frustrated growl.
Not bad, I decided, taking in the flowing blond locks that tumbled over his shoulders. But he’s no Calvin. Who would have thought, before today, that I’d be thinking that with a racing pulse and butterflies in my stomach?
Calvin strode to me, stopping only inches away. I barely heard the delighted squeals of the contingent of local nurses as they rushed to the aide of the fireman, who’d just been knocked out cold by a certain flying hunk of medieval metal. All I could hear was the labored sound of my own breathing, and the thunderous beat of my heart.
Well, it could have been the stampede of nurses, I suppose. But still.
Calvin leaned down to talk to me, his lips almost touching my ear. I could smell his cologne, something spicy and thoroughly male, and wondered if maybe my new Vulcan love toy had also discovered Captain Kirk’s secret for attracting bikini-clad alien babes. Because God knew he smelled good enough to eat. Lick. Hell, just take a big damn bite out of…
“Sold,” he murmured, his warm breath sending delicious shivers down my spine. “On one condition.”
Part 18 by Linda Wisdom
“Condition?” I squeaked.
Calvin nodded. “Dinner at the restaurant of my choice.”
There was too much going on. Candy’s shrill voice in the background as she shrieked for her lawyer while the Feds are telling her the shyster was in custody. Then there’s all these hunky guys in law enforcement that had me visualizing handcuffs and strip searches. And Calvin.
Calvin who didn’t look all that much like the nerd I remembered.
I made the mistake of looking across the room. My mother looked as if she’d died and gone to heaven and for all I know, already planning the wedding. I hoped I could stop her before she latched on to Ramona Hayward, our local wedding planner and town gossip who could put the Internet to shame.
Still, my all time favorite sight was seeing Candy hauled away in handcuffs. No designer wear for where she was going and gee, what a shame, she looks horrible in orange and jumpsuits will only make her look hippy. Yep, a very good day.
I looked up, responding to Calvin’s smile with one of my own. Spock turned Zorro turned into an all around nice guy with gorgeous eyes and a very nice smile.
“If you’d allowed the bidding to go on longer you could have made more than my $500 bid,” I said
“Because so many of the bachelors were off the block?”
I shook my head. Did he always have eyes a woman could just dive into? “Because you’d deserve every penny of it,” I said sincerely.
I wasn’t looking my best, but he stared at me as if I had just stepped out of Glamour magazine. And his hand on my arm had a firm yet gentle grip.
But he wasn’t the one I was aiming for. I wanted Dave the tool guy. – the Highlander, Rick the pirate or Simon AKA Mr. Darcy. Didn’t I?
“Dinner at a restaurant of your choice,” I murmured, realizing he was guiding me out of the room.
He nodded, as we walked down the hall. The more I looked at him the more I saw Calvin and not Spock or Zorro. Amazing, because I really love Antonio Banderas as Zorro.
“Do you like French food?” He steered me out of the hotel and toward a fire engine red Porsche that screamed speed.
“I love it.” Although the only French food I knew we would find in town were the fries over at the Dairy Queen.
Calvin smiled again as he tucked me into the passenger seat as carefully as if I were made of porcelain.
“Calvin, it’s not even close to dinnertime and I’d like the idea of a shower and change of clothes before we go out,” I said as he revved up an engine that purred like a tiger. I’ve always loved sexy cars and this one was giving me ideas.
He drove out of the parking lot and in no time was on the road out of town.
“A shower sounds good too, but we have some traveling to do.” He pulled his cell phone out of a hidden pocket and spoke quickly into it.
Did he just give the idea of our taking a shower together? Whoa mama!
I thought I’d had my share of surprises today, but no way did I expect to see a sleek private jet sitting on the runway or that Calvin was parking the car nearby.
In no time we were settled inside the jet and I was enjoying a mimosa while Calvin excused himself to go to the rear of the jet.
“I suppose you still carry your passport with you?” Calvin called out.
“Oh sure, for those times I can run off to London or Rome for the weekend,” I joked and then almost choked on my drink when Calvin walked out wearing a polo shirt and jeans that made him look better than all the other bachelors rolled up into one.
He sat in the seat next to mine and secured his seat belt. “Good, because I know this nice little bistro in Paris. If you’d like we can do some shopping first and find something to wear for dinner.”
I was positive I’d suffered a severe blow to the head. I’d gone from wanting to throttle my mother for dragging me to a bachelor auction to being offered a smorgasbord of men that had me drooling all over the place to getting the bachelor who was quickly turning out to be the deal of the century.
Heat covered my skin as Calvin grinned at me and I started to imagine him without the jeans and polo shirt.
“Calvin,” I started even if I wasn’t sure what exactly I was going to say.
“Did I ever tell you you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met and since that first time I saw you I imagined taking you to Paris,” he said.
My smile grew so wide I’m amazed my face didn’t double in width.
Not that I’ll thank my mother for dragging me to the bachelor auction. It would just convince her she did the right thing.
Plus, who knows, she might have the chance to plan a wedding.