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Closing Bid by Margot Swan (The Auction) Book

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Closing Bid by Margot Swan (The Auction) Read Book Online And Download

Overview: Step inside the world of The Auction Series where the highest bidder wins. It's not goods and services on stage to be bought and sold, but people who have put their bodies in the spotlight. When the hammer comes down and the amount is paid, will love be the real currency?

Join some of your favorite romance authors as they take you behind the auction room doors. Bidding starts this August.

Merriweather Auctioneers is the perfect way to start your life debt-free.

Elle Cartwright has just finished her last exam at NYU. All that’s left to do is graduate and get a job. But before that, she is going to put herself up for auction—for one night. She knows what that one night will entail… but for a means to start her life debt-free, she's willing to do it

Harrison James just made his first million and wants to celebrate. Who needs another expensive car when you can spend your hard-earned money helping a struggling student? At least that’s what he tells himself when he decides to put a bid down at the Merriweather College Auctions.

But he didn’t expect to see his best friend’s sexy sister being auctioned off.

He needs to save her—have her for himself—and be her closing bid.

Will their chance meeting bring them closer together or push them apart?


Closing Bid by Margot Swan (The Auction) Book Read Online And Download Epub Digital Ebooks Buy Store Website Provide You.
Closing Bid by Margot Swan (The Auction) Book





Closing Bid by Margot Swan (The Auction) Book Read Online Chapter One


The doctor’s office is decorated in understated wealth. The walls are painted a warm cream, with accents of rich green and muted blue. Soft classical music flows from cleverly hidden speakers to create a feeling of serenity. Not that I’m feeling serene. My pulse is frantic, but I’m trying to exude the same façade of calmness as the room encourages.


Fresh flowers are displayed on a marble table in the center of the room. A stylish receptionist sits behind an antique desk. I know it’s old and expensive—the desk, not the receptionist—but I don’t know if it’s a Louis the Fifteenth or some other French dude’s name.


“Curtis,” I whisper, nudging my best friend’s shoulder with mine. “What type of table is that?”


“How the fuck should I know?” Curtis whispers back, but looks over at the receptionist’s table nonetheless, shakes his head and turns toward me, an eyebrow arched. “An expensive one?” he deadpans.


It’s a pity Curtis and I didn’t make it as a couple. He is beautiful—almost too pretty to look at. He has sharp, high cheekbones, soft skin, big brown eyes, and the darkest, silkiest black hair I have ever seen. He has a slight build, but he’s toned. When we first met in classes at college, I thought he looked a little like Aladdin from the original Disney movie. We hit it off and tried dating, but the spark and fun we had on dates didn’t take flame the first time we kissed. So, we became best friends—without the benefits.


“You’ve got all your documents? Signed and ready?” he asks as he clutches his white envelope tighter in his fist.


Placing my hand over his clenched fist, I say, “You know you don’t have to do this with me, right? I’m a big girl.”


We’ve been having this same discussion for the past month—since we got our acceptance letters for the Merriweather college auction. “You’re not the only one with crippling student debt, Elle. And Merriweather Auctioneers has a fantastic reputation. Even if it feels a bit like the black market,” Curtis says, glancing down at his envelope.


“Mister Price, Doctor Katz will see you now,” a nurse announces from the small hallway to our right.


“Guess it’s my turn …” he says, his eyes clouded with doubt.


“Don’t worry so much. It’s gonna be amazing.” I squeeze Curtis’ hand before he stands to follow the nurse to the doctor’s office. His expression is skeptical, like he can’t understand why I’m so excited to be doing this. But I am—excited, that is.


I’m ready to start my own life. I don’t want to owe anyone anything. My family is one of the million middle-class families across America, but I saw the financial pressure sending my brother to college put on my parents. They constantly argued over money and my dad had to take on a second job to help pay the tuition, and I didn’t want to do that to my parents when I started studying.


Trying to help myself reach a financial goal and helping my family where I could was what drove me to find out how much I liked working with numbers and budgets, and what eventually made me decide to study accounting. There’s just something about numbers and knowing how to manipulate them to make life easier that fascinates me.


I’d always wanted to study at Yale. Coming from a small town in Maine, I longed for the hustle and bustle of the big city—and I did it on my own. I got a loan and started working, part-time, at a small pizzeria near my apartment to help pay the rent.


Life in the big city isn’t like the rom-com movies my mom and me used to watch when I was little. So, when I heard from other seniors about a hush-hush college auction that was an easy way to pay your student loan, I investigated and decided that I wanted to complete my business degree—debt-free—with Merriweather Auctioneers.


They’re one of the oldest auction houses in New England and the company that organizes these ‘secret’ college auctions. They have an excellent reputation, and not everyone who applies to be auctioned off is accepted. They have a shit-ton of rules that the participants need to follow and stringent medical exams they must pass, not to mention requiring participants to sign a non-disclosure agreement.


This doctor’s appointment is the second step in getting ready for the auction next week. Curtis and I have been accepted, and now we are getting our medical examination out of the way before we sign the final documents at the auction house next Friday.


Merriweather House is nestled somewhere near Mount Marcy in Vermont. We are traveling up by train early Friday morning to Lake Placid, where a car will be waiting to take us to the resort.


From the brochure we got about the auction house in our acceptance letter, the resort looks a bit like the big hotel from the movie The Shining—minus Jack Torrance, hopefully.


It’s going to be incredible—


“Ms. Cartwright, Dr. Fischer will see you now,” a pretty nurse calls, and I get up, gathering my backpack. This is one test I know I’m going to ace. I haven’t been with anyone for the past year, unless you count my trusty vibrator, so no pesky STIs for me.


I am ready to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Sell my body for one night for a shit-ton of cash.


God, I’m tired. I need caffeine, stat! But sitting in the back of the black Mercedes-Benz passenger van with six other people, I’m not going to get any of the life-supporting liquid until we arrive at Merriweather House.


I stifle a yawn and gaze at the other ‘acquisitions.’ I’m sure that’s what you call objects being auctioned off. Everyone in the van is gorgeous. We’re three guys and four girls, all around the same age, between twenty-one to twenty-four years old. Surprisingly, we don’t all look the same. It’s like the organizers were looking for different types of people to cater to a wide variety of preferences. Some are model thin and tall, others are more pixie-like—and then there’s girls like me, all tits and ass. The guys are the same, someone for everyone’s tastes. Curtis is the dark-haired nerd, and the other two are more athletic.


The only sounds in the van are the wheels humming and the soft music playing from the front. We’re all silent, nervous about tonight. Since climbing into the van my excitement has morphed into nerves, and most of us are looking at our phones and trying to distract ourselves. I only recognize one other person besides Curtis—Merissa Lawton. She is as fake and plastic as the blonde Barbie doll she resembles. I’m sure that the men at the auction will pay close to, if not a million dollars for her since she’s society’s definition of beauty, but I’d heard that only virgins fetch that price.


God, a million dollars. What I wouldn’t give to get that—well, nine-hundred thousand dollars after Merriweather took their ten percent. Still … I could have a totally different life after tonight. No more wondering if I can make rent or if I will have enough money to visit my family over break.


“Woah.” Curtis’ soft exclamation distracts me, and I look out of the tinted window to my right to see what’s caught his attention.


Up ahead is nothing short of a mansion. The building is covered in white wooden cladding and has two wings that branch off symmetrically from the double front doors. Manicured lawns and stately pine trees line the drive.


I swallow as the van slows to a stop, trying to calm my racing heart. I’m actually here. I’m going to—


“You ready, babe?” Curtis asks, taking hold of my hand. His palm is clammy, and I suspect he may be more nervous than I am.


He only applied for the auction because I did. Because he is worried that it’s some sort of scam and that I will be sold to a sleazeball for more than one night. Now, if that happened, it would happen to both of us—or that is his reasoning.


Swallowing down my sudden anxiety, I turn to my best friend. Plastering a big smile on my face, I retort, “Are you?”


“I’m not sure. It feels like I have a V-8 engine where my heart should be,” he says, tightening his hold on my hand.


Pulling him close, I whisper, “Thank you for doing this with me. I promise nothing bad is going to happen. We’ll have a fun night to remember for the rest of our lives. Not to mention a fat bank account when we return to our closet tomorrow.” I wink, trying to lighten the mood by referring to our tiny apartment.


“You’re right, Elle. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. What are we waiting for?” He lets go of my hand and leans forward to grab our backpacks from the floor. Taking mine, I slip my phone inside. Crouching so I don’t hit my head on the door frame, I follow the others to the van door and climb out.


The breeze is refreshing, and I take in a lungful of cool mountain air. I’m greeted by clear skies, and instead of heavy city traffic, I hear birdsong and the low murmurings of the twenty-two people waiting at the foot of the stairs leading toward the big-ass front door. Curtis and I stand at the back of the group and look around, wondering what we’re supposed to be doing. I don’t know if my heart is racing from nerves or excitement for tonight. I’ve been looking forward to this for months, but now I’m here, I’m a little scared.


While I’m wondering if I’m making the right decision, the sound of high heels on stone grabs my attention, and I look up to see two men and two women appear from the mansion. Like everything so far, they look professional and immaculate. Their clothes are tailored, not a hair out of place, and I feel frumpy in my faded jeans, Yale hoody, and sneakers.


A brunette woman steps forward and addresses the crowd. “Good morning, and welcome to Merriweather House. I trust that you are well-rested and ready for the day to begin. I am Triss, and these are my associates, Steve, Janet, and William. We are the curators for this year’s college auction, and we’re here to help you prepare for tonight.” She pauses and surveys the group before looking to her right, and one man and the other woman step forward. “Janet and William will accompany the virgins. Will the six inexperienced participants please follow them to your rooms.”


I gasp as Curtis turns to leave my side. He’s a virgin? That can’t be. I’ve seen him with loads of girls … unless Curtis is finally going to ...


I grab for his arm and catch his sleeve. “Hey, what’s going on?”


“I’m trying new things,” he says with a small smile and a wink.


“Text me!” I demand as he follows the others up the steps and disappears through the double doors.


“... the rest of you can follow me,” Triss says and turns her back on us, expecting us to follow her, leading our way to the front door.


Shit, I don’t know what’s happening. I wasn’t listening. I was too surprised at finding out that my best friend was being adventurous and giving in to his hidden fantasy of being with a man. Maybe that’s why he was so nervous?


Now it was only me, three guys, and twelve other girls outside, including Merissa, who was giving me the side-eye. Ever since we were in class together she’s been an utter bitch to me and Curtis. We’ve theorized that it’s because she asked Curtis to go out with her and he declined. She must not have liked being told no. Well, that’s the only reason we could come up with.


With one last deep breath, I fall in line, following Triss. Ready for the next step in this lucrative adventure.


 

* * *


Luxurious decadence. That’s how I would describe the interior of Merriweather House. Shiny wooden parquet flooring under elegant Persian carpets, and dark leather couches arranged in groupings, ready for socializing. Beautiful paintings of the surrounding mountains and rivers embellish the walls as we follow Triss up an elaborate staircase to the upper floor. We are each given a room and told to relax before lunch, after which we will head to the auction room and have a walk-through before we need to get dressed and ready for hair and makeup by five p.m.


I’m in room 214 at the end of the hall.


It’s not as opulent or stately as the downstairs reception hall, but it’s still far grander than any hotel room I have ever stayed in. A king-size bed dominates the room, the bedcover the same azure blue as the sky outside. The walls are a subtle gray color, with the windows and doors in glossy white trim.


A door to the left leads into an ensuite bathroom. In the corner is a jacuzzi bath, and I can’t wait to try it, let the jets help me relax after lunch, but before that, I need coffee and to find out what is happening with Curtis.


An old-school landline telephone is on the bedside table, and a small desk is in front of the window overlooking a meadow to the rear of the mansion. Next to it, there is a small, dark wood counter with a built-in mini-fridge and a small Nespresso coffee-pod machine.


Thank fuck! I quickly set about making myself a mug of coffee, and I sigh as the rich aroma fills the room.


After taking a sip, I feel my body relax. Caffeine has been my drug of choice since I had my first cup at sixteen. I move to the small sitting area close to the window and take out my phone from the backpack to text Curtis.


Elle: What’s your room number? Can I come over?


I wait and shoot off another message when I don’t see the dots dancing with his reply.


Elle: Are you okay? You haven’t been kidnapped already, have you?


I’m joking, but also, I’m not. I hadn’t realized how much I need my best friend by my side to stay centered and excited. Since I’m not having to calm Curtis’ nerves, my own are taking center stage in my brain. What if the man who buys me is ugly? What if he’s old enough to be my grandpa? I shiver at the thought—it doesn’t matter. It’s just one night.


I’m about to call and ask Reception to put me through to his room when my phone vibrates. Checking the screen, I see Curtis’ smiling face and answer the video call.


“Hey, Elle. I’m okay. Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. We had to have an extra medical exam,” he says, smiling but rolling his eyes.


“What? Why?” I pick up my mug and make my way to the sunny windowsill.


“Virgins get another medical exam. A psychologist was there to discuss tonight, to be certain that we understand what we’re going to be doing and that we won’t regret it tomorrow. Two of the girls decided to go home,” he says, his eyes darting to his left and I feel like he’s hiding something.


“Wow, that’s a cool thing to do, but babe, I can’t believe you’re actually going to, you know, do it with another man. I know you’ve always been curious, but … just wow.” I know I am rambling, but I am nervous for him and for me. Especially if he’s going ahead as a virgin.


“We’re here for the money and securing our best future, right? So, I’m going to do everything I can to make the most of tonight,” Curtis says, his eyes filling with determination, and a slight smile graces his lips. From that look, I think he’s more excited about tonight than I am.


“I hope we get to see each other backstage at least. I miss you,” I say, and I don’t recognize the sound of my voice. I sound small and weak, both things I pride myself on not being. I am independent. Strong-willed.


Fuck this shit. Curtis is right. Tonight is about our future, and we are going to have fun. Sexy fun.


“Any man will be lucky to get your spectacular ass, babe,” I tease.


“I do have a pretty fantastic derrière,” Curtis agrees. “Almost as pretty as my face.” He smirks.


There’s a knock at the door, and I get up. “Someone’s here. I’ll call you later, okay?”


“Sure. It must be lunch. Talk soon,” Curtis says before hanging up.


I open the door to a guy about my age with a room-service trolley, which he positions in the middle of the room, pulling the chair from the desk to the cart. Two silver domes cover what I guess is my lunch.


“Your lunch, miss. You can leave the cart outside the door when you’re done,” the server says before promptly turning and closing the door behind him. I don't understand his standoffish behavior, but before I can think about it further, my attention is drawn to the smell of roast chicken wafting up from beneath one of the covered domes. Shrugging, I dismiss the server from my thoughts, sit down and dig in to the delicious meal.


Today feels like a weird dream. Maybe after lunch, I’ll be able to have a nap before the rehearsal.



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