September 28, 2020

The Heart's Bidding

 
 

The Heart's Bidding
by Jordan Riley Swan
Genre: Clean Contemporary Romance 

Kaylee Heart would rather run through a roaring fire than endure even a minute of public speaking. Put in an eighty-hour work week? No problem. Shut down her grandfather’s gold-digging girlfriend? Easy peasy. Stand in front of an auction crowd and call for bids? Show her the exit.


So she has no idea how Gerald, the golden-voiced auctioneer she’s been crushing on at the local auction house, can find the courage to stand on stage every week, with all those eyes on him. But as cruel fate would have it, she is about to find out.
Her family antique shop, the Vintage at Heart, has tripped over one financial hurdle too many and Kay is propelled, full speed, into her biggest phobia—the spotlight.

With terror chasing her, she’ll have to fight to keep the family business from closing forever. Even if the battle takes place in front of a live crowd.



 
Kay’s smile melted into a nervous line as Gerald strolled out of the building and into the parking lot. He stopped at the corner of the building with three other workers, hanging at the outside edge of their cigarette smoke, getting the rundown for the coming week.
Kay happily noted he didn’t have a cigarette in his hand. Not that it mattered, as it wasn’t even remotely her business—it was two cities away from even being in the same neighborhood as her business, in fact. Still, she hated the smell of smoke and wouldn’t even buy a piece of furniture if it had the barest whiff on it.
The magic hour of twilight accented his good looks, smothering out the rougher edges, giving some depth to his imperfect cheeks, some mystery to the casual look from his dark eyes.
Most importantly, the dying light accented the best thing about him: his whisper-sweet-nothings-in-the-dark voice. Gone was the professional detachment of the auction block, replaced with a warm softness that nestled in her ears. His bid-calling baritone must have been for show, but there was enough weight in his natural voice for it to roll the fifty feet across the gravel lot and park heavily in the middle of her stomach. It pulled her down and made her float in a constantly shifting balance.
Kay realized she’d been staring and snapped around to face her van. The cool night air gave no relief to the sudden sweat on her brow.
Heavy footsteps crunched through the gravel drive toward her.
“Excuse me. Bidder two twenty-seven, isn’t it?” Gerald asked. The change in his voice from his “bid-working” tone was even more obvious as he got closer.
Kay nodded without turning, using the distraction of balancing the chest of drawers on its side as an excuse to keep her eyes off him. His aftershave had worn down from a long day of work, but enough clung about him to remind her how intoxicating a singular smell could be. How much alcohol did they put in men’s cologne? A good whiff and she’d feel lightheaded and drunk.
Unfortunately—or perhaps fortunately—his scent carried the residue of his recent proximity to the smokers. The burned odor of cheap tobacco turned her stomach and cleared her head, saving her from a mad impulse to drop the mahogany chest, snatch the front of his shirt, and steal that voice from his mouth with her own.
Her knees locked as the thought startled her.
She must have been frozen for too long, because he repeated the question.
“You’re bidder two twenty-seven, aren’t you?” His voice was sterner the second time. Accusatory.
“Yes.” Kay didn’t turn to him. She intentionally concentrated on getting the proper leverage to shove the tall chest onto the rubber-mat floor of the van without damaging the side of the wood on the steel ball hitch.
“Well, that piece is marked six nine six. I don’t think you won it.”
“What?” Kay whipped her head toward him. She balanced the chest of drawers on the fulcrum point of the rust-pitted bumper with one hand and turned to fully face him. Its short, round oak feet dug into the dirty gravel. Her thoughts clung onto the gravel-popping distraction, welcoming it. Otherwise she might have spat some gravel at him for accusing her of theft.
“I’m saying you didn’t win that.” There was no malice in his voice, despite his accusation.
“You think I’m stealing?”
“No. But maybe loading something you thought you won, but actually didn’t?”
His diplomatic response doused her flare of annoyance.
“It’s my grandfather’s. I load the furniture for us.”
Hadn’t he heard the whole conversation inside earlier between her grandfather and Mr. Forest?
“Okay. Just wanted to make sure,” he said.
She didn’t respond.
“I’d have thought your grandfather… Bernard, right?”
Kay nodded.
“I’d have thought Bernard would’ve had me bring that chest when I came by later,” Gerald said.
Her heart jumped to her throat. “Bring it by?” Was he coming that evening? How long would it take her to zip through the shower?
Gerald continued, “He asked Mr. Forest to deliver the French buffet he won. I’m surprised he didn’t ask me to grab his other pieces too.” His expression was one of complete puzzlement, but Kay faked an uninterested shrug.
Did she have any clean clothes at the shop she could change into?
She busied herself by tipping the bottom of the chest of drawers off the gravel and wiggle-walked it across the gripping surface of the rubber flooring. Gerald stepped to her side to offer a hand, but she angled her body to stop him and regretted it instantly. Not because of the rude feeling that surged into her chest as she literally gave him her cold shoulder—that regret happened a full minute later—but because the smoky smell of his co-workers had finally cleared, leaving only his natural scent and a hint of aftershave. Up close, it was citrusy and smooth. Nothing like the body sprays other men in their mid-twenties tended to wear. It was subtle but unavoidable. Perfect.
Gerald retreated slightly from the van but didn’t leave. His mouth was pinched closed, holding back some comment she had probably triggered with her brusque refusal to allow him to assist.
Kay had better smooth things over. She didn’t want to throw up roadblocks between business and pleasure. If she upset an auctioneer, he could make things expensive by calling longer every time she was winning a bid. Worse than that, he could stop talking to her right then.
 


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Jordan Riley Swan is a wild word hunter living in the far and dangerous reaches of rural Ohio. He spends his nights tracking down big-game stories, capturing them in paper cages, and training them to be better tales.


The Heart's Bidding was the first novel he'd dared to use the keys of his typewriter to release back into the wild.




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5 comments:

  1. A very clever title and I do like how the cover fits well.

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  2. I think the idea for the story is a unique one as after all the books I have read I have not read about this. Also love the cover and I wish you much luck on your tour! peggy clayton

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  3. The cover is fascinating. It really catches your eye.

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  4. I love how the colors on the cover mesh. This is a cover that definitely catches my eye!

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