Driven - K. Bromberg

CHAPTER 1

I sigh into the welcoming silence, grateful for the chance to escape, even if only momentarily, from the mindsuck of meaningless conversations on the other side of the door. For all intents and purposes, the people holding these conversations are technically my guests, but that doesn’t mean I have to like or even be comfortable around them. Fortunately, Dane was sympathetic enough to my need for a reprieve that he let me do this simple chore for him.

The clicking of my high heels is the only other sound coexisting with my categorically scattered thoughts as I navigate the vacant backstage corridors of the old theater that I’ve rented for tonight’s event. I quickly reach the old dressing room and collect the lists that Dane had set down and forgotten in our chaotic, pre-party rush to clean up. As I start to head back toward the festivities, I run over my mental checklist of things left to do before the start of tonight’s highly anticipated date auction. The niggling in the back of my mind tells me that I’m forgetting something. I reflexively reach for my hip where my cell phone with my always-compiled task list habitually rests, but instead, I come up with a handful of the copper-colored silk organza of my cocktail dress.

“Shit,” I mutter to myself as I stop momentarily to try and pinpoint what exactly it is that I’m overlooking. I sag against the wall, the ruched bodice of my dress hindering my need to inhale deeply a sigh of frustration. Even though it looks incredible on, the damn dress should’ve come with a tag warning, ‘breathing optional.’

Think, Rylee, think! With my shoulder blades pressed against the wall, I shift inelegantly back and forth to try and alleviate the pressure on my toes, which are painfully crammed into my four-inch heels.

Auction paddles! I need the auction paddles. I smile widely at my brain’s ability to remember, considering I’ve been so overwhelmed lately with all of the various details as the sole coordinator of tonight’s event. Relieved, I push myself off of the wall and take about ten steps.

And that’s when I hear them.

The flirty, feminine giggle floats through the air, followed by the deep timber of a masculine moan. I freeze instantly, shocked at the audacity of our party’s attendees, when I hear the unmistakable sound of a zipper followed by a breathless but familiar feminine gasp of, “Oh yes!” in the darkened alcove a few feet in front of me. As my eyes adjust to the shadows, I become aware of a man’s black dinner jacket lying carelessly across an old chair shoved askew and a pair of strappy heels haphazardly discarded on the floor beneath it.

Mortification fills me. At the thought of them finding out I’m here. For them in being overheard. At my curiosity in who is actually brave enough to do something like this. At how never in a million years would that be me there in that alcove. You couldn’t pay me enough money to do something like that in public. My thoughts are interrupted when I hear a hiss of breath followed by a masculine, exhaled, “Sweet Jesus!”

I squeeze my eyes shut in a moment of indecision. I really need the auction paddles that sit in the storage closet at the end of the intersecting hallway. Unfortunately the only way to reach that hallway is to walk past the alcove currently being used as Lover’s Lane. I have no choice but to go for it. I send up a silent yet ludicrous prayer, hoping that I can skate unnoticed past their