Sold To The Sheikh Bidder

By: Holly Rayner

Lauren took a deep breath as she hit the accelerator more slowly this time. Going into the party flustered wouldn’t look good, not for her or her team. She tried to center herself as she drove, and took another precious minute as she parked in the garage spot marked “CEO” to close her eyes and take a few deep breaths.

The party wasn’t what was making her nervous, not really. It was the charity auction at the end of the party. Lauren had wanted to do something to give back to the community, in acknowledgement of how successful the company had been, so she’d gathered some great prizes from her clients and business partners to auction off. All the money would go to a fund supporting community college students to get into media production.

It was a great cause, and Lauren knew it would help a lot of kids who needed it. But she wished she hadn’t agreed to the final prize offering.

One of her staff members had suggested that the big auction prize be Lauren herself; she would do the bidding of whoever won her for a week. The suggestion had been met with a positive buzz among her staff, and Lauren had to admit that it was a great idea.

Someone in the legal department had even drafted up a contract, which Lauren has signed the day before, outlining exactly what that meant. She was now legally bound to follow all the orders of her buyer, as long as those orders didn’t break any laws.

Lauren fully expected to be making coffee for one of her junior account managers for the next week. Or bringing lunch to one of her clients. Lauren knew that her second in command had heard rumors of the accounting department pooling their money to “buy” the boss, so she wasn’t too worried; it would be good for her team’s morale to see their CEO willing to play along.

There was a legal out in the contract, something she’d insisted on, just in case someone took things too far. If Lauren felt she couldn’t fulfill what was ordered of her, she could buy out the contract by paying whatever the buyer had bid in the auction.

But still, it was a bit disconcerting to know that she would have to offer herself up like that.

Lauren took another deep breath. If she just thought of it like being on another kind of stage, she could do this. It would be fine.

Finally feeling less agitated, she opened the car door, put on her best brilliant smile, and headed into the party.

Her assistant, Emma, met her right inside the door. She didn’t give her boss a chance to say anything, just held her arms out for Lauren’s coat.

“You got delayed by an important call,” Emma said, folding Lauren’s coat in her arms.

“From who?” Lauren laughed. “All of our clients are here tonight.”

Emma shook her head. “Not all of them. The CEO of Allied Productions has the flu. I think he sent a few of his people, but he also called to offer his congratulations.”

Lauren raised an eyebrow. “Did he really call?”

“Of course. And he sent some lovely flowers with a bottle of champagne."

“So, I talked to him.”

“Very briefly. He sounds terrible, so you didn’t keep him on the phone long.” Emma ushered her boss down the hallway and pointed toward the party.

“Thanks, Emma.”

“You’re welcome. Now go be awesome in there.”

Lauren made a quiet entrance into the main room, where the party was already in full swing. She greeted people with handshakes and hugs, acting like she’d just stepped away for a few minutes instead of rushing over from another part of town.

One of the many servers walking through the crowd offered Lauren a drink, which she gratefully accepted. She took a sip of champagne and kept circulating through the crowd.

It was gratifying to see so many people at the party, a sign that BingeWatch had truly made it to the top of the pack. Lauren mentally ticked people off in a checklist as she talked to them; she didn’t want to overlook or accidentally slight anyone. It might be her night, but the people she talked with had made it possible for her company to succeed.

One of her account managers introduced his wife to her, and another crossed the room to introduce her boyfriend. Lauren was so pleased that her staff had brought their families, and it reminder her that she hadn’t seen her mother yet.

She did a slow circuit of the main room, checking to see if her mother had gotten caught coming in the door and was still talking. No such luck, though.

But someone did catch her eye. Lauren barely stopped herself from doing a classic double take when she saw the gorgeous guy across the room. Wavy black hair paired with dark olive skin and gleaming white teeth that flashed a perfect smile—really, the guy could have come from central casting, he was so good looking.

Lauren didn’t know who he was, even though he looked a little familiar. That made sense if he was in the industry; she’d probably seen his picture in one of the trade papers. He wasn’t one of their clients, and although he was chatting with people, he didn’t seem to be there with anyone in particular, which meant he probably wasn’t a family member of one of her staff.

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