Saturday, May 7, 2011
Studio Time: Twelve
South Beach: The Harbor Hotel - 6 PM
Sydney slid her cell into the pocket of her skirt and hurried down the stairs to get changed. Reaching a small sitting room she paused and then slowly approached the window that looked out on the patio. That was where the auction was being held. Her co-chair had done the first group of celebrities and Syd would do the last, the heavy hitters, the ones where Sydney’s talent for getting what she wanted would come into play and she wanted this afternoon to be a success.
And Sydney always got what she wanted. Peering out through the filmy curtains she watched Rob as he chatted up her guests. Well maybe she didn’t get everything...
“I don’t suppose as the committee chair you’re allowed to bid on the beefcake are you my love?”
Whirling around, Sydney came face to face with her husband. His presence was not something she had anticipated, nor was she prepared to deal with him now, not now, not with Rob turning away and Cooper throwing a tantrum over his child's ridiculous expectations and she still had to attempt to sell a date with his awful older daughter. They’d had a silent agreement - they didn’t discuss or acknowledge their liaisons outside the marriage. Why would Charlie decide to bring hers up now? Humidity and nerves sweating into her hair and her blouse, Syd’s radar flashed into full alert. Damp radar. Dripping and foggy radar. “What do you want, Charlie?”
Charlie’s laugh had always been dark and sexy. It started deep inside him and bubbled to the surface as he leaned against the wall. “Can’t I take an interest in my wife’s affairs? Perhaps that was a bad choice of words - I should say your interests shouldn’t I...that would be more appropriate.”
“I don’t have time for this Charlie - why are you here?”
Charlie’s eyes drifted to the side and, when he didn’t immediately answer, Sydney quickly glanced over to see what caught his attention. A woman, of course. Camilla Lombardo, much more woman than Syd thought he could handle but he was still looking like a man who would be willing to try. He answered her, voice like the deep purr of a large predatory cat as he continued to watch Camilla. “Perhaps I should be more involved in your little causes Sydney.”
Her mouth lifted slightly at the corners, her mask solidly in place as she approached him. Sydney would not be baited, not tonight. Smoothing the lapel on his Armani jacket she responded. “Of course darling, I’ll send the itinerary of upcoming events to your personal secretary. It will require a great deal of your personal time. You’ll have to cancel your next few trips to China. Now be a love and kiss my cheek; I’ve got some beefcake to sell.”
Wyatt peered out from behind the curtain and scanned the crowd, mostly women with a few scattered men, and wondered who would end up with him as the prize. He discussed the auction with Cadence and she hadn’t been at all concerned over the idea of women bidding on him. Wyatt thought she’d be somewhat jealous and possessive at the thought of him on a “date” with someone else but Cade had simply laughed it off. It was a hit to his ego but she was right, he didn’t want anyone but her.
He let his eyes wander once more over the crowd. There was a mix of women of various ages from young to older and more mature. Society’s best, he figured, at an annual event where idle rich could play out their fantasies buying celebrities for a dream date. Wyatt had to admit that he was even caught up in the idea. His package included dinner at Caprice and a midnight cruise. He just hoped he didn’t end up with someone old enough to be his grandmother.
Sydney Pera had been working the crowd like a pro as far as Wyatt could tell. There was an unlimited supply of food on the buffet tables and liquor was being poured in abundance at every bar. Waiters and waitresses moved through the crowd with trays and encouraged the guests to drink up.
Syd had lined up fifteen celebrities in all and although this was Wyatt’s first time at an event like this, it seemed to be going off without a hitch. She had raised quite a bit of money already with the first ten and still had the big guns waiting in the wings. Wyatt was number eleven. As Sydney introduced him, Wyatt strode out from behind the curtains and made his way down the catwalk.
He was all smiles as he strutted his stuff while she encouraged the bidding to go higher and higher. “Come on now ladies...this is the first in our trifecta of Stanfields...let me hear an opening bid of at least one thousand.” The bidding kept going as Wyatt continued to walk up and down. He flirted with a few of the women up front, making eye contact, smiling, encouraging the bids as paddle after paddle was raised.
“I’ve got four thousand in the back, can I get forty-five? This is for dinner and a midnight cruise ladies with a charming young man and rising rock star. There’s forty-five, now can I get five thousand?” Sydney scanned the crowd and urged the bidding to go higher using the charity as her hook. Finally the bidding had reached seventy-five hundred and the crowd had hushed as Syd asked for any other bids. “I have seventy-five hundred going once...twice...I have eight!”
Syd appealed to their sense of goodwill driving the bid higher until she was at 10,500. When it came to getting what she wanted in this arena Sydney was a pro. “Last chance ladies...I have 10,500. There is 10, 750...I see 11,000...going once...twice...sold to the lady holding paddle 162! Thank you!”
Wyatt couldn’t believe he’d been sold for eleven thousand dollars. He looked out at the woman holding paddle 162 trying to see if he recognized her. She looked reasonably young but she wore sunglasses and a large hat to shade her fair skin. As he moved back to the staging area he couldn’t let it go - he’d meet her soon enough on their date but her identity nagged at him.
Circling around Wyatt approached the woman who was taking the checks and logging each transaction. She was sitting at a table away from the main stage. “Excuse me, could you tell me who that was...the woman who purchased me...paddle 162?” Wyatt threw her a charming smile and waited.
“Of course, just one moment...” she looked on her clipboard dragging a polished fingernail down the list until she found the name. “Yes, here it is, a Mrs. J. Michaels.” She looked up at Wyatt and returned the smile. “We’ll be handing out the date packages at the end of the evening with all the details.”
Wyatt had never heard of her. “Okay, thanks.”
Heading through the side door he ran directly into his sister. She stood in his way, looking intent, looking like Girl with a Mission, looking like Rayne at a moment he didn’t really want to deal with Rayne. “Wyatt, can I ask you something personal?”
As if she wouldn’t if he said no? Wyatt, wary as usual, wondering what was on her mind this time, distracted by the mysterious Mrs. Michaels, considered coming up an excuse then gave up. “I guess so.”
Rayne glanced around, but except for a couple of women making coffee and Jimmy Breaux who was staring out an open window and smoking right under a ‘no smoking’ sign, they were alone. “Gemma had her baby but I think you know that already. I can't get Dad to talk to me about it at all, but I sort of think that if it was his, we would have heard something. It...umm..it wouldn't possibly be yours, would it, Wy?”
For an instant Wyatt couldn’t speak. Stunned speechless and his mind scurrying back what, why would she think that, there was that one time but she didn't know about that and he'd left walked out nothing had happened NOTHING had gone down nothing like that. Creeped out, watching Jimmy still smoking, he went back at her. “No! No way! Are you crazy? She's my mom's cousin!” He drew breath, trying to remember the second part of the thing. His father. They all knew something had gone down between him and Gemma, another reason his skin crawled thinking about the woman now. "You leave Dad alone, Rayne. Stay out of it, quit bugging him, he's got a lot of shit to deal with, fucking drop it."
She glanced down the length of the room and narrowed her eyes and stepped closer and said, "If it’s not his and it’s not yours, I don’t care whose baby it is, but people saw you with her and it looked like something was going on. So, I am not crazy for asking. And I'm not bugging Dad; I have game in this and you know it.” Rayne knocked one high heeled boot against the other as she watched Jimmy grind out his smoke and start towards them and aimed a different expression in his direction. “By the way, who's that woman who bought your date?”
“Yeah, well, keep your nose out of it.” An uneasy feeling came over Wyatt at the question. He still didn’t know who this Mrs. Michaels was, but he felt like he should. “I don't know who she is; I couldn't even get a good look at her. Why? Did you see her?”
Turning away, his sister took her boyfriend’s hand or maybe he took hers, either way they clasped hands and started toward the door, the same door he’d been trying to get through before she blocked him. Jimmy seemed like a strong, stand up guy but, not for the first time, Wyatt wondered if he was really the right one for her. Balls to the wall, Rayne struck back. Love from Rayne. “She has red hair. She's hiding it. You know her or she wouldn't hide it, so no I don't but you do."