Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight. I didn't say anything about Twilight owning me.
I was so nervous I could hardly stand up straight. Of course, staying upright was always an issue for someone as clumsy as me, but I'm usually okay when I'm standing still. Not tonight.
Not when I was about to humiliate myself in innumerable ways. Why were they waiting so long to call my name? To give me more time to wonder why the hell I had agreed to this? Yeah, let me think about it some more, just for shits and giggles: I was about to walk out onto a brightly lit stage in front of the crème de la crème of Seattle society in a very tight blue dress and extremely shaky stilettos. Besides all that, I was being auctioned off for charity. Charity, good; putting someone as clumsy and self conscious as me out there in such a public way, bad. Very bad.
"And the next lovely lady up for grabs is… Isabella!" I heard the announcer say. I took a deep breath and prayed for the gods to cool my blushing cheeks as I walked out onto the stage.
The lights hit my eyes at the exact angle so that I couldn't see a majority of the crowd. Thank god for small blessings.
I slowly made my way to the middle of the stage, where I was supposed to walk out on the catwalk they'd set up and twirl around like I was Heidi Klum. Show off the goods, I guess, which would be fine if I had any goods to advertise. I took another deep breath and walked even more slowly down the catwalk, paused at the end and smiled awkwardly, then turned around and went to stand by the master of ceremonies.
He smiled at me and looked out to the audience, all of whom had paid top dollar for a seat at this year's charity auction. The biggest hospital in Seattle did a bachelorette auction and banquet every year and it was a highlight of the social season, if you ran with that crowd. Which I certainly did not, I was simply helping out my old college roommate Alice, who had planned this shindig for the hospital and was one bachelorette short the day before the event.
"All right, gentlemen, let the bidding begin at $100!" the mc said. One hundred dollars for a night with boring old me? Someone was getting gypped.
"I've got $100!" I heard someone in the crowd yell. Wow, that was quick.
As the numbers went higher and higher, my blush darkened deeper and deeper. Now I knew this must be a joke, like with Monopoly money or something, because no guy in his right mind would pay that much for a date with a plain, mousy, uninteresting librarian.
The bidding had stalled at $1000 and I was completely flabbergasted when I heard the sexiest, most velvety voice I've ever had the pleasure of hearing say calmly, "Five thousand." The entire crowd gasped and looked to the center of the room, but the lights blinded me past the first row. Who was that? And what the hell were they thinking?
"I believe that's SOLD for $5000! Wow, Isabella! You've just set the new record for our little auction!" the mc exclaimed happily.
I could only swallow and attempt a half-ass smile as the crowd burst into applause.
I tugged at the neckline of my very expensive shirt and thought about how, for how much I spent on it, you'd think it would be a little more comfortable. But I was being crabby, I hated attending these society things that having money obligated one to attend. Besides the fact that my family provided a large amount of support for the hospital, my baby sister Alice had put together the entire bachelorette auction this year, so there was no way out of it.
Everyone at my table was chatting quietly as they waited for the next woman to be trotted out like a piece of meat. I never understood why someone thought a bachelor or bachelorette auction was a good idea to raise money; it smacked heavily of 1850s Confederacy to me. The people who actually auctioned themselves off were an even bigger mystery, though I guess it's all for charity so the usual norms are suspended. It must take a healthy dose of ego to be able to put a price on yourself and feel like you're worth it.
The woman next to me tried again to catch my attention by running her hand along her exposed collarbone. Elizabeth, I think her name was. She'd been flirting shamelessly all night, though whether she was more interested in me or my family's money was a toss up. I sighed and thanked god that the next woman up for auction was last.
"And the next lovely lady up for grabs is… Isabella!"
A vision in a blue dress appeared on the stage. Her intense blush only heightened her almost fierce beauty; no woman before her could hope to compete. She had long, lush brown hair that fell in curls down her delicate back, and a body that Heidi Klum would be envious of. She was obviously uncomfortable as she walked slowly and so sexily to the front of the catwalk and smiled, but her discomfort only added to her appeal. She had no clue just how sexy and gorgeous she was.
This was my type of woman.
Why in the world was she a bachelorette? No man had claimed her?
She went to stand by the mc and blushed again. "All right, gentlemen, let the bidding begin at $100!" the mc said.
"Edward," the whiney voice next to me said. "I asked you a question."
I managed to drag my eyes away from the angel onstage and glared at Elizabeth… or Eleanor… whatever. "What?" I growled.
Her eyes widened in surprise at my tone. "I- I simply asked if you had plans following the banquet," she stammered.
I heard the bids get all the way up to $1000 before I made a snap decision, the first in my life. "I do now," I muttered.
"Five thousand," I said louder. The entire room turned to look at me. Elizabeth (or Elisha) looked at the staring crowd, then back at me. "Did you just bid?" she asked, looking very confused.
I nodded curtly as the mc exclaimed, "I believe that's SOLD for $5000! Wow, Isabella! You've just set the new record for our little auction!" The crowd started clapping wildly and I stood up and bowed slightly. I tried to avoid this kind of attention like the plague, but those intentions had flown out the door when my goddess in blue appeared in the bright lights.