Darren Kelley loves his town, his job as a volunteer firefighter, and working at a shelter for abandoned horses. He couldn't imagine living anywhere else. Until the cute girl from high school returns to town, all grown up. Angie Davis is a pastry chef working at a popular restaurant in Boston. When her mother runs off with her latest toy boy, Angie rushes back to her small hometown in Maine to rescue the family pasta factory. Not content to return to the boonies, she decides to sell the business, fast, and get back to her real life. But before she can escape, she meets up with the man of her high school fantasies, and questions whether she needs the bright lights and big city to be happy.
The noise in the ballroom was deafening. Screams, whistles and laughter blended into a palpable force.
Angie slid into her seat. “What’s the bid up to?”
“Someone named Missy bid four—” The rest of her words were drowned out by the MC.
“Going once, going twice…”
Angie’s gut churned. Only four hundred? Darren was worth tons more, even if he was from the wrong side of the bay. Her heart pounded and a trickle of sweat crawled across her chest. Like in the minutes spent waiting for the pregnancy test to turn blue. Or not.
Without wasting another second worrying about the consequences, Angie stood, raised her paddle and shouted, “Five.”
Utter silence cloaked the room, except for a few gasps. The loudest of which came from Jill.
“What the hell are you doing?” She grabbed Angie’s arm and pulled her off her feet.
“You told me to get a man. In fact, you told me to buy the firefighter. So I bid.” There was no way on God’s green earth she would allow Darren to fall into Missy’s talons. The viper had been the bane of her existence all through high school.
She risked a glance in Darren’s direction. He shook hands with a couple of the other bachelors, who should have been looking smug at out-pricing him, but instead they looked a little peeved.
“Are you crazy—five thousand dollars? You don’t even know this guy. No one knows this guy.”
“Thousand? No, it was five—” Coffee and booze churned in her stomach.
“Sold!” The gavel rapped, Missy glared, and Angie had bought herself a man.
Oh cripes, what have I done?
Slumping in her chair, Angie rubbed at the pain blossoming behind her right eyebrow and struggled to breathe. Damn, she wasn’t hyperventilating, was she?
She took a final gulp of cold coffee before trailing behind Jill as they approached the group of men, and the women who had bought their services. Jill sashayed to her bachelor and soon led him away to a private corner where they could get to know each other. Angie couldn’t help but think Jill and her new beau would get along like hippos in mud. Jill’s love of adventure guaranteed they’d have fun. And they’d look good doing it. From their identically highlighted hair to their designer duds they could be on the cover of one of the tabloids as the newest power couple. Jill had admitted to liking fancy wrapping. Angie was more concerned with what was inside the package.
Angie squared her shoulders, tugged again at her sequined hem, and advanced toward her purchase. He slouched against a pillar with his hands in his pockets, scanning the crowd, a slight grin on his handsome face. His eyes crinkled slightly at the corners, and his white teeth set off the last of his summer tan. A downright yummy package.
She held out her hand. “Hi, I’m Angie Davis. I don’t know if you remember me but—”
“Yeah, I do now.” His emerald gaze traveled from her head to her toes, leaving her with the distinct impression he didn’t like what he saw. He ignored her outstretched hand. She dropped it to her side, fighting the urge to shuffle and fidget.
Only she could spend five thousand dollars to get rejected.
A wave of embarrassment heated her skin and she wiped again at her damp brow. She had to get out of there before she did something else stupid. She cleared the discomfort from her throat.
“For this date, since you don’t have anything planned, I thought—”
He aimed for the lobby bar. “I need a drink.”