Sold To The Sheikh Bidder

By: Holly Rayner

“It’s fine,” Lauren replied, somehow surprised that she was calmer than her friend.

“No, it’s not. It wasn’t supposed to be someone from outside the company. Even the clients who wanted to bid knew that the winner was supposed to be one of our people. It’s only fair.”

Lauren couldn’t help but laugh at her logic. “It was an auction, Kayla. Fair means whoever bids the most wins. That’s how it works.”

“Yeah, well, I’m having legal rewrite the rules first thing tomorrow morning.”

“I am sorry that one of our employees didn’t win the auction. I know how much everyone was looking forward to the possibility of bossing me around. Maybe we can do some kind of trade just for them later on?”

“Yeah, if you think I’m letting you do anything like this ever again, that would be a no.”

Lauren let the idea go, knowing that Kayla would follow through; the chances of BingeWatch ever holding another charity auction had just dropped to below zero.

“What do we know about the…” Lauren really didn’t like using the word, especially since she didn’t know who it was, but she bit her tongue and said it. “…buyer? Who is he?”

“I don’t know. He didn’t leave any information except an address, which he said was his office. I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet. You’re supposed to be there at noon tomorrow, which counts as your first day of servitude.”

Lauren ran a hand over her hair. “Okay. I’ll do some research later tonight.”

“Let me get one of our guys to do it. We can run a background, see who it is.”

Lauren put a hand on Kayla’s arm. “Don’t make anyone leave the party to do that. I’ll look the address up in the morning. Either way, I’ll find out what’s up when I show up at his office.”

“Yeah, that’s not making me feel any better,” Kayla sighed, then added, “I can tell you he’s not one of our clients. I’m not sure how he even got an invite.”

Lauren waved a hand. “We sent invites to some prospective clients, too. He’s probably one of those.”

Kayla shrugged. “Maybe, but I’d feel better if I knew who he was. I was going to cancel the sale, actually, not allow him to pay. I asked one of the lawyers to come with me, to say that we were not letting the sale go through. But he paid—in cash, no less—and was gone before I could get to him.”

Lauren sighed and leaned against the wall. “So, he came ready. Which means he knows me, maybe?”

“Or he’s just heard of you? Could be a potential client who wants a better deal?” Kayla asked, pacing a few steps in one direction, then whirling and pacing a few steps back. It was enough to make Lauren dizzy.

“Or a competitor, though I didn’t recognize him,” Lauren said, closing her eyes so that she didn’t have to watch Kayla.

“Someone new to the area? Or to the industry?”

“Could be,” Lauren thought about it. She usually kept up to date with current and prospective competitors, but she had no idea where this guy had come from.

“Look, we can still get you out of it,” Kayla put a hand on Lauren’s arm, trying, and failing, to comfort her.

Lauren opened her eyes. “No, we can’t. I signed a contract, remember?”

“You can get out of the contract.”

“No, really, I can’t. There’s no way I can pay a hundred grand to the charity, and that was the only loophole we put in there.”

Kayla thought for a long moment. “You could ask your…”

Before she could finish the sentence, Lauren held up a hand. “No.”

Kayla shrugged. “I’m just saying.”

“We’re not bringing my mother into this. In fact, now I’m actually glad she didn’t make it tonight.”

“She would hate that you were bought by someone outside the company. You know she’d give the money to charity for you.”

“Yes, and I’d never hear the end of it. It’s fine, Kayla, really. The contract says exactly what I won’t do. If he’s a competitor, it doesn’t allow me to override any other legally binding agreements, so the business will be fine.”

Lauren thumped her head gently against the wall. She was so glad someone had had the foresight to add that little clause; she couldn’t disclose anything or do anything to put the business in jeopardy, like reveal the contents of another client’s contract or sell part of the business.

“And if it’s not business he’s interested in?” Kayla asked after a pause.

Lauren laughed mirthlessly. “Pretty sure that’s not legal, either. Plus, the contract also limits my working hours,” she put air quotes around the phrase, “to normal office hours, so no evenings, no overnights.”

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