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"Hi, y'all! My name is Cindy LuAnne. I'm from Texas, I love long walks on the beach, I have my degree in Art Restoration, and my ideal date would be a romantic night just talking under the stars." The brunette spoke into the microphone. She had her hands propped up on her hips as she stood in the center of the stage, smiling at the gangsters who watched from the dance floor.

"There you have it, boys and girls! Miss Cindy LuAnne. The starting bid is $1,500!" Andrea spoke enthusiastically from a black podium on the right side of the stage.

"$2,000!" A man spoke out.

"$2,500!" Another yelled as he raised his glass of champagne.

"Aw, come on, you could do better than that!" Andrea called out as she pointed to Cindy, who smiled wider as she tilted her head to the side.

"$4,000!" A woman yelled out as she raised her hand.

$5,000!" The first man said as he began to raise his voice.

"Wow! $5,000! The highest bid of the night! Going once... going twice... and sold! To that lucky gentleman in the blue suit." Andrea said cheerfully as she pointed to the bidder.

The dance floor politely applauded Cindy as she strutted off stage left. I'd been watching this shit show of an auction for the past thirty minutes. Women would go up and try to sell themselves to a bunch of horny mafia members in hopes that they would get the honor of being the highest bid of the night. And even worse, these girls were treating it like it was a privilege to be picked to be sold away.

The only thing that was required from us was a date with the highest bidder. We got to choose the location, the duration, and any other minuscule details. I scoffed as I looked at the crowd of curious men. I couldn't believe I was going to be wasting my night going on some useless date while a madman was threatening to kill my family.

"Alright, you're up. Remember, state your name, where you're from, something interesting about you, and your ideal date." Andrea whispered as she quickly walked over to me and grabbed my arm.

I shot her a deadly glare, making her immediately release her grip on my forearm as her eyes widened.

"After you." She said nervously as she motioned to the stairs leading up to the stage. I took a deep breath as I contemplated just turning around and leaving the entire event. I didn't do well being told what to do. I did even worse being forced to do something I didn't want to.

But this was a favor to Fernando, a favor that would hopefully get me and my family on his good side for once. We needed this alliance, and I needed to do anything I could to make sure we walked out of this ball with someone backing us against Moskov.

I let out an annoyed sigh before I gracefully walked up the steps with Andrea closely behind. As I walked onto the stage, I was met with booming applause from the crowd and lights so bright that I could hardly see. I couldn't make out anything except for shadowy figures below me, and each face in the crowd blurred together.

"Last, but certainly not least, we have the one and only Miss Allegra Grey! Thank you for participating in the auction for cancer research." Andrea said into her microphone. I stood in the center of the stage as whispers erupted from the dance floor.

"Anything for the beloved children." I spoke with a hint of sarcasm. I took a deep breath as I tried to hide the annoyance lacing my features.

"Uh... Alrighty then! Tell us a bit about yourself." Andrea said in a chipper voice as she looked at me.

"My name is Allegra Grey... where I was born is none of your fucking business. What I like to do is none of your fucking business. What's interesting about me is none of your fucking business. And my ideal date would be cutting off his dick, and shoving it so far up his ass that it comes out of his mouth." I said with a huge fake smile.

The crowd fell deathly silent below me as I smirked in amusement. I could have sworn that I heard someone spit out their drink in shock. I bit my lip to hold back the laugh that was brewing inside of me.

"$5,000!"

"10,000!"

"$11,000!"

"$13,000!"

You've got to be fucking kidding me.

"$25,000." A thick Russian accent called out, making my heart drop.

This can't be fucking happening right now.

"Wow! $25,000 from Mr. Vladimir Moskov! Going once... going twice." Andrea said as she leaned forward onto her podium.

Jesus Christ, just kill me now.

"$50,000." A deep voice called out from the back of the room. I let out a small sigh as my shoulders slightly relaxed. I was relieved that someone outbid Moskov, but I didn't recognize the new bidder's voice.

"$60,000." Moskov called out.

"$100,000." The cool voice spoke out angrily, making Andrea gasp loudly.

Great. I'm caught in the middle of two men's ego contest.

"Oh my, we're in the six figures now, folks!" Andrea said as she fanned herself with her hand.

$150,000." Moskov called out again.

"$200,000." The cool voice yelled.

"$300,000." Moskov hissed. I could tell her was starting to become angry.

"$500 fucking thousand." The deep voice yelled sharply.

Gasps were heard throughout the ball room, along with whispers amongst the guests.

"O-oh my word! $500,000! A new auction record! Going once... going twice..." Andrea said before she paused, holding up her hand in anticipation.

"...and sold!" Andrea announced energetically as she threw her hands up in the air.

Thank god it wasn't Moskov. I thought to myself as I exhaled deeply.

"Since that was our highest bid in the auction, please make your way to the center of the floor for the first dance of the evening." Andrea said as she looked at me before motioning to the dance floor below us.

"And thank you, Ace De Luca, for your generous donation!" Andrea exclaimed into the microphone before she began clapping her hands together.

The ballroom erupted in applause as the lights dimmed and my attention fell immediately on a smirking Ace De Luca. He was leaning against the back wall with his eyes fixed on me. His three-piece black suit was expensive and pristine. His black hair was perfectly done, not a single hair out of place. Ace's muscular arms were crossed, and his leg was propped up on the wall behind him.

His lips started to slowly morph into a smirk as he looked me up and down. I scowled as he winked at me and motioned with his finger for me to come to him. 

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