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Excerpt of The Highest Bidder by Roxanne St. Claire


Desire #1681
October 2005
Featuring: Paige Ashton; Walker Camberlane
192 pages
ISBN: 0373766815
Add to Wish List

Romance Contemporary, Romance Series

Also by Roxanne St. Claire:

Summer in Barefoot Bay, May 2022
Barefoot with a Bad Boy, February 2016
Hearts in Danger, June 2015
Barefoot By The Sea, November 2013
Paperback / e-Book
Barefoot In The Sand, May 2012
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Kiss Me, I'm Irish, March 2012
Paperback / e-Book
Guns and Roses, February 2012
Face Of Danger, May 2011
Shiver Of Fear, April 2011
Edge of Sight, November 2010
Mass Market Paperback
Make Her Pay, October 2009
Hunt Her Down, September 2009
Mass Market Paperback
Now You Die, September 2008
Then You Hide, July 2008
First You Run, April 2008
What You Can't See, January 2008
Mass Market Paperback
His Style Of Seduction, December 2007
The CEO's Scandalous Affair, July 2007
Mass Market Paperback
Take Me Tonight, April 2007
Thunderstruck, February 2007
A NASCAR Holiday, November 2006
I'll Be Home for Christmas, October 2006
The Intern Affair, September 2006
Thrill Me to Death, July 2006
The Sins of His Past, January 2006
Kill Me Twice, October 2005
The Highest Bidder, October 2005
When the Earth Moves, April 2005
Killer Curves, February 2005
Hit Reply, December 2004
Trade Size
The Fire Still Burns, September 2004
Like a Hurricane, March 2004
French Twist, February 2004
Tropical Getaway, January 2003

Excerpt of The Highest Bidder by Roxanne St. Claire

"And the lady is…sold! To the gentleman at table four!"

The auctioneer's gavel smacked the podium and the 450 guests in the Ashton Estate Winery reception hall erupted in a chorus of cheers and boos. The bidding for a date with the blond Napa Valley socialite, also known as bachelorette number seventeen, had been fast and furious.

She had a name — the auctioneer had even said it — but Paige Ashton's mind worked better with numbers than names. And now that number seventeen was bought and paid for, there were only three women left before dessert and dancing could commence. Then Paige was done.

She hugged her clipboard and beamed from the side of the stage. They were just shy of the magic number of $20,000, to be raised for the Candlelighters of Northern California. God bless the brave ladies willing to parade on that stage, willing to let men shout out dollar amounts they'd pay for a date.

Not only was it a wonderful cause, the annual Candlelighters Bachelorette Auction was a smashing event, and she'd coordinated every detail for the "Take a Walk on the Wild Side" jungle theme right down to rainforest- inspired centerpieces. It had been a breeze after the balancing act she'd been performing with her family the past few months.

Still, she'd been a little nervous about executing this event — her first on her own since she'd returned home to the winery to help her sister handle the massive functions held at the world-famous estate. Megan would be proud, if she weren't in the throes of morning sickness. Paige planned to debrief her sister on the success the next day, and they'd share a welcome reprieve from discussing their father's murder and the various leads the police were following to find the person who shot Spencer Ashton.

"Tiffany Valencia is gone."

The words, whispered to Paige by one of the auction aides, tickled her ear and raised a hair on the back of her neck.

"Gone? Number eighteen is gone?" It didn't take her lightning-speed brain to solve this problem. "Get nineteen."

The aide, a young intern for the auction company, shook her head. "No can do. That one just left with Ashley Bleeker for a smoke."

"Bleeker? That means eighteen, nineteen and twenty are gone?"

"We have to take a break."

"No break," Paige insisted. That would ruin the rhythm of the event and, worse, stop the bidding. The event would ultimately be judged by how much money was raised. "Where the heck is eighteen — er, Tiffany?"

"I think she met a guy and took off with him," the aide said apologetically.

Paige rolled her eyes. "He's supposed to pay for that privilege."

The aide shrugged and looked up at the stage where the auctioneer was peering at them. "You better tell George. He's not good at ad-libbing. He needs someone to auction off."

Paige didn't waste a moment thinking about what needed to be done. "Get the band in place, we're almost done with the auction portion. Let me talk to George and see if he can keep things moving until we find her." She gave the aide her clipboard and took a deep breath, her palms suddenly too damp to risk smoothing her silk skirt.

How did these girls do it? Just going onstage to chat with the auctioneer raised her heart rate.

The room quieted a little as she stepped into the spotlights that flooded the stage. Someone whistled from the back.

Good heavens. They thought she was the next bachelorette. Paige threw an apologetic smile into the crowd and shook her head, but the lights blinded her. She could only make out a few faces in the very front, one of them her cousin Walker, looking both surprised and amused.

"Well, here's a shocker!" The auctioneer further hushed the crowd with his booming voice. "Paige Ashton is bachelorette number eighteen."

Blood drained from her head and rushed to her pounding heart. "No, no, I'm not." Her denial was too soft to be heard over the rowdy response. She'd done her job and made sure the Ashton wine flowed freely. Now she had a roomful of inebriated men who'd have applauded any female at this point.

"I don't have a fact sheet on Paige," the auctioneer admitted, his commanding voice hardly needing a microphone. "But I know firsthand that she's a delight to work with. She's — how old, Paige?"

"Twenty-two!" She recognized Walker's voice, and one more glance at her cousin revealed his fairly evil grin. He leaned over to say something to another man, missing the dirty look Paige directed at their table.

"How much do we hear for this twenty-two-year-old beauty with a well-known last name and an angel's face?"

Death. Death would be preferable to the lights burning her cheeks — or was that just one massive blush that threatened to explode every blood vessel in her face?

"Five hundred!"

Oh, dear God. They were bidding. She held up a hand to stop them, but the auctioneer grabbed it, spinning her in a Fred Astaire-like move. "Just five hundred? Look at this beautiful young lady. Svelte, sweet and smart as a whip."


"I hear six-fifty for the honey with honey hair, do I hear six seventy-five, six seventy-five…"

Paige felt her legs weaken. Please God, make this end. "This is a mistake, George," she whispered to the auctioneer, her voice hoarse and low. "I'm not number —"

"Seven hundred!"

"That's more like it," George bellowed into the microphone. "I hear seven hundred, seven hundred, do I hear seven-fifty?"

He launched into the forced staccato that had enthralled the crowd all night, and someone yelled out a higher amount. The auctioneer's drone rose in intensity as he dared and defied them to up the ante.


"Nine hundred!"

Her legs would never hold. George spun her again. Twirling, Paige caught a glimpse of Walker, still talking to the other man, but the light prevented her from seeing who it was.

"Nine-fifty!" The shout came from the back of the room.

That silenced the crowd for a moment, no doubt because they neared the thousand dollar figure that usually stopped the bidding.

Excerpt from The Highest Bidder by Roxanne St. Claire
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