Sold To The Sheikh Bidder

By: Holly Rayner

Chapter 1


Shoving her arm into her puffy jacket sleeve, Lauren Sanders rushed out of the theater’s side door. February in Anaheim wasn’t that cold, but the thin straps and low neckline of her cocktail dress did nothing to protect her from the evening chill.

Lauren was never late. Not to meetings, not to dinners, certainly not to her own company’s three-year anniversary party. But the director had wanted to go over one more scene, so Lauren and a few of the other actors had stayed at her request. One rule of Lauren’s that had served her well in life was “don’t upset the boss.” And in the theater, the director was the boss.

She hurried to her car, jumped in and started the engine. If traffic wasn’t bad, she could still make it before anyone noticed that she was late. Well, anyone except her assistant. And her vice president. And her mother. But she’d deal with that when she got to the party.

Apart from when it made her late for parties, Lauren didn’t mind staying longer at rehearsals. The stage was one of the only places where she felt free of all the stress and pressure of her regular life. It was necessary, just as much as it was fun.

Usually, it wasn’t too much of a problem to keep her work world and her theater world separate. Even if it meant answering emails in between scenes and occasionally slipping out for a phone call when the cast was on a break, Lauren still managed to put her all into both.

Tonight, though, was different. It was the first time she’d ever had a rehearsal scheduled on the same evening as a work event. Lauren had thought she could manage it; at least she’d had the foresight to bring her party dress with her so she could get ready at the theater.

As it happened, being at the theater before the big party was a blessing in disguise. Getting ready for a black-tie event around theater people meant that her long, dark blond hair—normally professionally pulled back into a low ponytail—was tucked up into an elaborate loose twist that somehow looked like she’d just walked in from a day on the beach while at the same time being perfectly professional.

Her makeup was perfect, too. Knowing that she’d be on another kind of stage that evening, three other cast members had insisted on sitting her down so they could craft a look for her that appeared effortless, but would show up well under all the different kinds of lights she’d be under.

Lauren had worked in television production and theater long enough to know how to do her own hair and makeup, but it was so nice when she had other people to do it for her. She had been so nervous about the party that she was convinced she’d end up with clumped mascara and the wrong color lipstick.

Having the rest of the cast and crew there to put her together had saved her. They’d made sure her dress was steamed, oohing and ahhing over the pretty purple number Lauren had picked especially for the party. The deep eggplant color and stiff fabric was sleek enough to be professional, while the skirt belled out like a cocktail dress from the 50s giving it an air of whimsy.

She needed everything to be perfect at the party. It was an opportunity to show the world that BingeWatch Media had arrived, and to celebrate all the hard work her team had done over the past three years.

When Lauren started out, she had already known that she had what it took to run a successful company. In addition to her education, several high-level internships, and a previous job at another production company, she had been raised to be a CEO. Her mother, who had owned her own company since Lauren was a kid, had trained her daughter for the job from the beginning.

Except for theater, work was pretty much all Lauren focused on. She had friends and she made as much time to see them as she could, but getting BingeWatch up and running had left her with little time for anything else. She had worked incredibly hard to make her company one of the best in the industry.

In the television world, there were so many factors at play, and any of them could have caused the company to fail. With hard work, though—a lot of really hard work—the company had rocketed to the top of the field. They had just taken on several new major projects and had hired a bunch of new people.

Lauren had been planning this event for some time—she wanted to mark the year when the company turned truly profitable. She also knew this was an opportunity to thank her team and welcome the new staff on board. And it was a chance to show off to clients and maybe even recruit a few new ones.

Her fingers tapped nervously on the steering wheel as she sat at an intersection, waiting. When the light turned green, she moved her foot quickly to the gas pedal, but the heel of her shoe slipped on the mat and the edge of her foot caught the brakes. The car jerked to a stop and even though Lauren recovered quickly, it wasn’t before the car behind her blared its horn at her clumsy driving.

Top Books