The Billionaire's First Christmas - A Sweet Christmas Romance: Page3

Holly Rayner (2016)

I took the paperwork for the auction back with me when I resumed the meeting with Gary. That was a mistake. As soon as he saw that I was up for bid, he was all over it.

“This is going to be the best auction ever!” he said, enthusiastically. “Last year I bid on and won Aurora from accounting. She and I had the best day. We went to the movies and had dinner… I’m sure I’ll have plenty of competition bidding on you,” he said. “But for you I’m willing to break the bank.”

As much as I was looking forward to doing a good deed for charity, and I thought Gary was harmless, I was afraid that spending the day with him would only perpetuate this fantasy he has of us being together someday.

“Oh, don’t waste your money on me.”

“Waste? Are you kidding? I’d pay just to be seen with you, Robyn.” He was so sweet and he had innocence about him as well. But, he did nothing for me. I honestly thought something like this would only encourage him, and that wouldn’t be right.

I agonized for almost two weeks over what to do about it when I got an idea and went to see my friend John in production.

“Hey Robyn! Long time no see!”

“Hey John,” I said, accepting his kiss on the cheek. “How are Phyllis and the kids?” John and I had known each other since college. His wife and I had become friends over the years and they had the most adorable pair of twins I’d ever seen. John was the one who had referred me for the job I have now.

“They are great. The twins are finally sleeping through the night so Phyllis and I are getting used to seeing the world with clear eyes again.”

I smiled and said, “I might have an idea that could help us both out.”

“I’m game. What’s up?”

I told him about the auction and about Gary. He laughed.

“Gary’s crushing on you hard, huh? He’s kind of relentless that way. The last girl he attached himself to around here got another job out of state. There was speculation she only took it to get away from him.”

I laughed too. I knew that John was only half kidding. Gary was the kind of guy who never gave up until he wasn’t given any other choice. I really didn’t want to crush the poor guy. But, I didn’t want to be saddled with him either.

“So if I give you the cash, will you bid on me?” I asked him.

“Sure, then I can order you to watch the twins while Phyllis and I have a real date?”

“Absolutely,” I said. “I’ll let you know that night how much I’ll be able to afford,” I told him.

“What if there are multiple guys bidding? Should I bid against them all?”

“I doubt that’ll happen,” I said.

“Oh please, I know you’ve seen you. You own a mirror, right? Besides, I was witness to the droves of men who lined up to date you in college.”

“Shut up,” I said. Yes, I knew that men found me attractive. I didn’t ever hurt for a date if I wanted one. But, I was also mature enough these days to know that there was so much more to me than that, and I wanted a man who would appreciate all of me. The thing about being twenty-six was that as much as I loved to have fun, I was beginning to think about settling down. I wasn’t sure who I was looking for, but I’m sure when I do meet him, I’ll know. Until then, I wasn’t willing to get myself in a position where I’d miss “Him” when he showed up. I’d rather spend my Friday babysitting the twins than giving some poor guy false hope.

The time flew by and on the morning of the auction I stopped by and gave John the money I could afford for him to bid on me.

“Wow, this is a good deal of money,” he said.

“I have an account that I put money into all year for Christmas charities. I just love Christmas so much. I enjoy knowing that my money helps make someone else’s better. This year, it will all go to the kids I guess. That’s okay though, I’m sure they will put it to good use.”

“Okay,” he’d said with a grin and fanning the money, “Get prepared for dirty diapers and a lot of spitting up.” I didn’t know much about kids, but I knew that I’d be able to figure it out. John’s twins were three months old, a boy and a girl. As much work as I knew they‘d be to take care of, I also knew it was going to be a fun, rewarding experience. I was looking forward to the challenge.

After I left John and Phyllis’s house I went to work for a few hours. I took off early and went shopping for something new to wear to the auction. I spent too much time wandering around the mall. The Christmas decorations and lights were up and the smell of pine and cinnamon wafted around as soft Christmas music played in the background. I stopped and watched as the children lined up to see Santa Claus. Watching them made me happy and reminded me of how, when I was small, my parents would always take me to see him on the first day of December. My mom would dress me up pretty in my Christmas clothes and my dad would enthusiastically snap photos as Santa and I went through my list. Then at the end when Santa asked, “Have you been a good girl this year?” My daddy would look at me with so much pride in his face.

“She’s the best.”

I wasn’t in a hurry to have kids, but I’d really love to someday. I fantasized about what it would be like when I was the one to take them to see Santa Claus.

After a while I finally realized if I didn’t get home soon, I wouldn’t have time to get ready. I forced myself to leave the Christmassy atmosphere and went home to my apartment that I’d begun transforming for the season just this week. I didn’t have my tree yet to put the final touches on, but the rest of the place looked, smelled, and if you stuck a hand in the candy bowls, even tasted like Christmas.

I took out the pretty new dress I’d bought today and looked at it. I wasn’t a girl who liked to go with the latest fashions. I was always looking for something that would make me stand out from the crowd. Today, I found the cutest 1950’s retro blue, green and black plaid Audrey Hepburn style dress. It was sleeveless, so it was marked 50% off too. I had a blue sweater that matched it perfectly and a blue pair of heels, so the only other thing I bought to go with it was a little petticoat that made the skirt flare out. When I put it on I felt soft and feminine.

I curled my hair in long, soft curls and applied my make-up carefully. When I was ready, I took a final glance in the mirror and decided I should at least be worth a couple of hundred bucks.

The auction was being held at a hotel in town that was also owned by Winters Inc. The company seemed to dabble in almost everything and from what I’d heard; Mr. Winters had founded it on his own with very little capital. Of course, what he considered a small amount of money to someone else could be a large one.

I found the ball room and was surprised to see how many people were already there. Gary spotted me and waved eagerly. I waved back, nervously scanning the room for John. I finally spotted him sitting right up front. Good boy! I knew I could count on him. I felt much better.

They called those of us who would be auctioned off to the back and we waited together in a nice little room that they had set up a table full of drinks and snacks in. Max brought a deck of cards, knowing from experience how long the wait could be. I was second to last on the list and Max was last, so we entertained ourselves with raucous hands of “go fish” and “21.” Max could be loud and crass sometimes, but he was a lot of fun. His personality had scared off the last woman in my position with marketing I was told. I was okay though; I didn’t scare easily at all.

I could hear some of what was going on out front and I was both surprised and happy to find out that I worked with some really generous people. Some of my co-workers were going for over five hundred dollars. It did make me worry that maybe I hadn’t given John enough cash. He had five hundred, but in my mind I thought the bidding would be stopping around three. There was nothing much I could do at this point other than hold my breath, cross my fingers and hope for the best. I didn’t know Gary’s financial situation, but I doubted he could afford to throw away five hundred bucks.

When it was my turn Max winked at me and said, “Knock ‘em dead kid.” I wasn’t shy about being the center of attention; thanks to my parents who put me in every sport I was interested in including dance and gymnastics while I was growing up. I stood on the stage and waved at a few of my friends in the audience. The auctioneer told the audience my name and what department I worked in and then he started the bidding at a hundred dollars. I was literally shocked to see about eight hands go up. Gary had moved to the front and he and John were on opposite sides of the stage. The other six or so men were scattered throughout the audience.

The auctioneer took the bidding up to two hundred dollars and then three before a couple of the men dropped out. At four it was John, Gary and another man that I thought may have worked with John in production. When it went up to five, Gary and John were all that was left. I knew that was all John had… I thought I was doomed to spend a day doing Gary’s bidding until I suddenly saw a hand go up in the back and heard a smooth, masculine voice say, “Six hundred.”

“Six fifty,” Gary said, smugly.

“Eight hundred,” the man at the back called out. Gary was so close to the stage that I could see his face. I felt bad for him actually, he looked distressed. I hoped he wasn’t going to bid so much that he wasn’t able to afford it.

“Eight-fifty,” I heard Gary say. The man in the back smoothly countered.

“One thousand dollars.” Gary’s face did nothing to hide his emotions. He was sunk and he was not happy about it. The auctioneer asked if he heard ten fifty before wrapping up the bidding.

“Going once at a thousand, going twice, sold for one thousand dollars.”

I was flabbergasted that someone had paid that much money to spend the day with me. I could see John’s face as I climbed down off the stage and it said, “I told you so.”

I went over to see him first and he said, “I told you there’d be a battle over you.”

Smiling I replied, “I was a little nervous there for a minute. Gary came close.”

“Who was that who out-bid me?” John asked.

“He was too far back and the lights were in my eyes so I couldn’t see him. I was hoping you knew.”

“Nope, I was too intent up here on doing my job,” he said with a grin. “I didn’t recognize the voice as anyone I know though.”

“Well, thank you for trying.” I gave him a kiss on the cheek and he handed me back the five hundred dollars I’d given him. I tucked it away to now be used for what I’d originally intended, thanked him again and headed to the back to see if I could catch my new employer-for-a-day.

I didn’t know who to look for or who to ask, so I went to the table where they marked down who bought who and for how much.

“Excuse me, can you tell me who it was who won my auction? I’d like to thank him,” I said.

The lady at the table’s name was Janice. I’d met her at a few meetings and knew she was Mr. Winters’ assistant. She smiled and said, “I’m sorry sweetie; he very generously requested we keep it a secret for now. He’ll contact you.”

“He paid you not to tell me?”

“He didn’t pay me. He gave an extra thousand for the charity though with that request.”

Wow, this man just laid down two thousand dollars for me. Who in the world was he?


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CHAPTER THREE

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ROBYN