More than a Mistress(4)

By: Sandra Marton

Peggy blushed furiously and pulled her fingers free of his just as the gavel sounded and the crowd roared.

"You'll do lots better than me," she said, and gently shoved him toward the stage. "Go on, handsome. Get out there and knock 'em dead."

Which was exactly what Travis decided he'd do.

He went onstage at a brisk trot, arms high overhead, hands clasped in a winner's pose, and did a fair imitation of Sylvester Stallone's victory dance in Rocky, while flashing a thousand-watt grin.

The crowd loved it, and roared its approval.

Travis laughed. What he'd told Peggy was the truth. This wasn't real life. It was for a good cause. And it was fun, or it was supposed to be. If the jerks in his office had made it into something else, that was their problem, not his.

So what if he went for five hundred bucks? So what if he wasn't snapped up by a hot-looking babe? Let everybody at Sullivan. Cohen and Vittali have a laugh at his expense. Let 'em lose their crazy bets. He was going to get into the spirit of things, have some fun and do his best to raise a bundle of bucks for kids who really needed


Travis's smile dimmed just a little as he spotted the lady at the center table nearest the stage. Peggy had certainly nailed it right. The lady was certain to have a great personality. Well, so what'? She had a nice smile. Hey, she was probably a nice person. The auctioneer was doing his intro, a bit about Travis Baron, Esquire, and Travis strutted a little more, grinned when somebody let out a piercing wolf whistle and shot a big smile to the lady in the front.

"Do I hear five hundred dollars to start?" the auctioneer said, and the lady with the smile and the personality whooped and said, "How about a thousand?"

A cheer went up and Travis smiled, and looked at her, looked past her...

And thought, just for a second, that his heart was going to leap straight out of his chest.

A woman was standing behind the last tables. He knew, right away, she was the latecomer Peggy had described.

She was also the most beautiful woman Travis had ever seen in his life.

Peggy had said she was blonde and blue-eyed. With great hair, a great face and a great body.

All correct. And all wrong, because those words didn't come anywhere close to describing her.

Her hair was a cascade of silk the color of ripening wheat, her eyes the color of Texas bluebells. Her face was a perfect oval, with those incredible blue eyes darkly lashed and wide-set under slender, arched brows. She had a proud, straight nose, a sexy indentation above her mouth...

Oh, that mouth. The full upper lip. The softly curved lower one.

It was a mouth made for kissing.

His gaze dropped lower, to the tanned shoulders left bare by a halter-necked dress the color of garnets, to the generous lift of her breasts, the slender waist and rounded hips. Her skirt ended at midthigh, revealing a long length of shapely leg.

His blood hummed in his ears.

He wanted her. Wanted her with a primal need and desire that surpassed anything he'd ever known. He wanted to kiss that mouth, caress that body.. .and melt the coldness that clung to her like an invisible sheath of ice. He could see it in her posture. In the way she didn't so much as blink when his eyes met hers again. In the defiant lift of her chin.

He knew she could see the frank, sexual appraisal in his gaze-and that it didn't matter a damn to her.

Look all you like, she seemed to say, but don't be foolish enough to think you can have what you see.

Travis felt his body tighten. The sounds of the cheering women, the drone of the auctioneer, faded to a dull roar.

He imagined himself coming down off that stage. Going to her. Taking her in his arms. No words. No niceties. Just taking her in his arms, carrying her out of the ballroom to a place where they'd be atone, ripping that piece of dark red silk from her body and burying himself deep inside her while she wrapped her arms and legs around him...

Oh, hell.

He was standing in front of hundreds of people, thinking things that could only bring a man public humiliation. Stop it, lie told himself fiercely, and he tore his gaze from her, thought about cold showers and forced himself to focus on the delighted faces of the crowd.

"I have five thousand," the auctioneer shouted. "Do I hear six?"

"Six," the lady in the front yelled.

Travis fixed his attention on her. He flashed a sexy smile. She squealed. He turned his back to the audience, looked over his shoulder and pretended he was going to slip his jacket off.

The crowd whooped and cheered.

"Six-five", a brunette shouted. Travis turned and blew her a kiss.

He didn't need the blonde Ice Princess. He had a trio of women in a frenzied bidding war over him. What more could a guy ask'?

"Seven." a stunning redhead said.

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