Angela stood on the stage, the auctioneer yelling something in the microphone that sounded like a jumbled mess, not because auctioneers sound like that, but because she had zoned out in disappointment when she realized Tony wasn't there. Her face was smiling, but deep down, she was heartbroken.
Two weeks earlier...
Tony was scrubbing the oven clean after a fiasco the night before when Angela decided to cook. It was finals week and Angela was only trying to help, but it really only created more work for Tony. She meant well though and he appreciated the effort. As he scrubbed the interior of the oven, Angela stepped into the kitchen holding a sheet of yellow paper.
"Tony?" she asked, looking down at the paper, as she leaned against the counter, waiting for Tony to reappear from the oven.
"Yes?" he asked as he stopped what he was doing, always giving Angela his full attention.
"The Bower Agency is taking part of a charity auction this year for cancer research and I was wondering if you were interested in going."
"Sure, I'd love to go. When is it?" Tony stood from the kneeling position he was in while taking off his yellow rubber gloves.
"It's in two weeks."
"What kind of auction is it? Art? Baked goods? You know I can contribute a really delicious cherry pie."
"No, it's actually a date auction. Most of the employees of the various companies participating are being auctioned off to the highest bidder. Mother, of course, is participating. She wouldn't pass up something like this." Angela chuckled.
Hopeful but hesitant, Tony asked with an expression to match, "Are you participating?"
"I am, actually. Mother was ecstatic that I would finally be getting a date."
Tony's excitement grew. For months now, he wanted to show Angela his appreciation for everything she had done for him, but after his indiscretion with Kathleen, he didn't want to come on too strong. Angela was his best friend and while he had never said it aloud, he loved her. It took every ounce of his being to not knock on her door in the middle of the night and tell her because if he did it might be too soon. Maybe this charity auction was a step in the right direction for their relationship.
"Whoever wins you will be the luckiest guy of the evening." Tony said genuinely with a smile that made Angela's heart flutter.
"Thank you, Tony, that is a very sweet thing to say." Angela responded, hoping Tony would get her not so subtle hints to take the initiative to bid on her. Angela felt that she and Tony had finally reached that point in their relationship where it was before Kathleen, only it felt different this time. This time though, Angela could feel that Tony really felt as deeply about her as she did for him. It was time for Angela to confess her feelings in some way and the charity auction was an opportunity, assuming she could convince Tony to bid on her. "Hey, maybe we'll both end up with dates that night." Angela dropped another not-so-subtle hint.
The next week...
Tony sat at the kitchen table planning for the date auction and how he was going to make the date extra special for a woman who meant the world to him. Angela and Mona were out of the house that Saturday afternoon buying evening gowns for the event Sam was in her dorm and Jonathan was out with friends. It was just Tony and it was exactly the way he needed it to be because he had a big surprise cooking up and he wasn't going to tell anyone. He was having trouble deciding where their date should take place. A fancy dinner? Somewhere that meant something to them? Or would he find some place completely different and new and make that their new spot? All he knew was it had to be perfect.
After a couple of hours of planning, Tony started on dinner, a pot roast, that would be ready in time for Angela and Mona's arrival home. When they walked in the door, the house smelled of rosemary and garlic and after a long day of shopping, it was exactly what the two needed. They took a seat in the kitchen when Jonathan arrived, Tony and Angela facing each other across the table. They all discussed their day and when Mona went back up to her loft and Jonathan up to his room, Tony and Angela lingered in the kitchen to talk and clean up. Tony would rinse off the dishes and Angela would put them in the dishwasher. It was a one person job, but they wanted to spend time together, so they made it work.
While Tony handed Angela a drippy plate he asked, "Are you getting excited about the auction or are you nervous about who will bid on you?"
"Should I be?" Angela questioned, hoping to get some inkling of an idea if Tony had plans on bidding on her.
"You never know, there are some really weird people out there. Hopefully, you get a good guy." Tony responded, not letting any hints drop, his eyes twinkling with mischief. Tony handed Angela the last dish, then wiped off his hands with a dish towel. "Hey, Ang, did you want to watch a movie with me? Maybe...An Affair to Remember?"
Angela looked up from the dishwasher, met his eyes and smiled, "I'd love that." Their hearts both skipped a beat as they looked at each other.
Tony took Angela's hand in his and led her into the living room. As she took a seat on the couch, he popped in the movie. He joined her on the couch, leaving no room between the two of them and his arm around her shoulder. To anyone else they looked like a couple and if Tony played his cards right they actually would be in one week's time.
The day of the auction...
Tony was doing his best to stay calm. That night was a big night for him and Angela. He had everything arranged, but he was worried something was going to go wrong as if the fates were trying to make sure this relationship didn't happen, but Tony was going to do everything in his power to make everything right.
Angela was still dropping hints up until they left for the auction. The last hint was just coming down the stairs in her new gown to impress Tony. She'd never seen his eyes sparkle so much as when he looked at her in that moment. It was then she knew that all her hints had worked and Tony was going to bid on her after all.
When they arrived at the country club where the auction was being held, they were seated at a table with some other couples. Tony, Angela and Mona chatted up their table while they waited for the food to be served.
As the meal was served, Tony turned to Angela and asked, "are you nervous?"
Angela smirked because she knew Tony was going to bid on her, "not anymore."
Dessert was served half an hour later and then they finally began the auction. They were going in alphabetical order by company, so the Arrow Wood Construction Company was up first. The companies involved were a very eclectic mix and Mona was glad to see some rugged men there to bid on her when the time came. The Bower Agency was third after Bates & Bates Divorce Attorneys.
Angela, Mona and the other Bower Agency employees participating all stood up to go to the stage to await their fate. Mona was first
"Next up is Mona Robinson with the Bower Agency." the auctioneer announced. "Mona enjoys traveling, sunbathing and of course having a good time." Some cat calls were heard throughout the room. "Let's start the bidding at $10. Do I hear $10?"
An older gentleman shouted from the back, "$10!"
"Do I hear, twenty, twenty, do I hear twenty?"
The numbers climbed and climbed until they finally stopped at $740. It was a record for the night, one that would be hard to beat.
Angela was up next. She started to get nervous again. She looked over to their table for Tony, for some much needed encouragement, but he wasn't there. She panicked. Where was he? He was supposed to bid on her! Maybe she had misread his signals. Maybe her hints didn't work as well as she thought. The bidding began, but she kept her eyes on Tony's chair, willing him to come back to it and bid on her. She wasn't even paying attention to the bidding. She was so focused on Tony's disappearance.
BANG went the gavel as the auctioneer yelled, "Sold! For a new record of $980!"
Angela looked around, unaware of who had just won her. She looked to her mother for help, concern on her face.
"Angela, what's wrong?" Mona asked, "You just beat my record! You should be ecstatic!"
"I...I...didn't see who won." Angela stumbled over her words.
"It was some guy on the phone. I suppose you'll find out later." Mona said, taking Angela by the arm.
As the Bower Agency finished up the rest of their group, Angela finally noticed Tony come back and take a seat at the table. Her heartbreak was replaced with fury. How could he do that to her? Lead her on like that? As she headed back to the table, she vowed to never speak to him again, her eyes flaming with rage. She yanked out her chair forcefully and plopped down in it. Tony had a smug smile on his face and it just pissed Angela off even more.
"I'm sorry I missed seeing you getting auctioned off there, Angela. I had to use the bathroom."
Angela fumed in silence, not even daring to look at him in fears that she'll lose her cool if she sees that smile on his face one more time.
"How much did you go for, Ang? I'm sure it was a lot for someone as special as you."
Angela had had about enough of him. She clenched her cloth napkin in her hands until her knuckles turned white. "How could you?" she said under her breath between clenched teeth. Angela quickly stood up, throwing her napkin onto her chair and rushing out of the banquet hall.
Concerned, Tony quickly followed. "Angela!" he called when he exited the doors. He found her against the wall wiping away tears. He approached her. "Angela...what's wrong?"
Angela tried to hide her tears, but it was no use. She kept her head down as Tony came and stood in front of her. "I'm sorry, Tony. I guess I let my expectations about tonight get out of hand. It won't happen again." She lifted her tear stained face to look him in the eye. "Tony, for the last two weeks, I have been trying to hint to you that I wanted you to bid on me tonight. I guess the timing isn't right. I guess, it wasn't meant to be." Angela shrugged defeatedly.
Tony placed his hand on her cheek and wiped away a tear with his thumb. He met her eyes and saw the heartbreak and sadness he had caused. That wasn't the intention of tonight. "Angela..." he breathed as he inched closer to her.
Angela looked into his eyes and saw everything he wanted her to see. His brown eyes swimming with devotion.
"Angela..." he breathed again, this time their lips only centimeters apart. "I was the guy on the phone." he finally admitted, as they closed in on each other and passionately shared a kiss filled with expectation and love and everything that meant so much to them. This time, Angela was crying for a different reason, happiness.