The Bachelor's Promise (Bachelor Auction)

By: Naima Simone

He’ll never trust his enemy’s daughter.

Aiden Kent never expected to see Noelle Rana again. He’s determined to keep his distance from the beautiful enigma wrapped in denim and leather. He can’t trust anyone with the last name Rana. But he made a promise to his dying mother, and it isn’t long before Noelle invades his personal space. He can’t stop thinking about the exotic beauty’s alluring curves.

He wants the daughter of his enemy, and he’s determined to have her…if only for one night.

If Noelle wants to move forward with her life, she must make a deal with the devastatingly gorgeous, broody millionaire Aiden. He made a promise years ago, and she’s come to collect—even if it means facing down the only man who ever broke her heart. And there’s a really good chance he’ll do it again.

To Gary. 143

“Let me live with you and eat from off your golden plate and sleep on your bed, and I will bring you your golden ball again.” –The Frog Prince

Chapter One

Only under the threat of death—or watching the latest Kanye West rant on YouTube, the same thing in Noelle Rana’s book—would she admit this, but…

When she was a kid, she loved fairy tales.

Yup. Enchanted forests, cottages made of candy, glittering castles with their royal banners waving from gleaming turrets. Glass slippers, gorgeous gowns, and priceless jewels. Magical fairy godmothers, protective dwarves, and beautiful princesses who played with golden balls.

What girl wouldn’t rather become lost in that world instead of the one that contained this-side-of-rundown apartments with water-stained walls and temperamental heating? One with hand-me-down clothes and shoes that pinched because they were a size too small? One where dolls were missing an eye or an arm? Because when toys came from the thrift shop, beggars couldn’t be choosers.

But soon enough, the grim harshness of reality bullied away the gilded dreams of fairy tales. When a child’s father came stumbling home at two o’clock in the morning reeking of alcohol and crying for the wife who’d left him nine years earlier, right after their daughter was born… Well, stories of kings, queens, and princes tended to tarnish.

Still, as twenty-five-year-old Noelle stood in the wide entrance to the huge ballroom and surveyed its glowing, crystal chandeliers, pristine marble floors, and floor-to-ceiling arched windows, she couldn’t help but be reminded of the castles from those old stories. Couldn’t stop the awe and delight from swelling in her chest before she quelled it with a mental Get real slap down.

After all, she hadn’t arrived at this ritzy, hoity-toity event to dance until midnight or court a prince.

Nope. She was here to collect…or go down swinging.

Aiden Kent was definitely handsome enough to rival the son of a king, and people no doubt treated him like royalty since he was a millionaire ’n’ all, but to her, he was more of an ogre—no offense to Shrek. Though, to be fair, Aiden would probably call Noelle a witch. Oh, who was she kidding? He’d definitely call her a bitch.

Squeezing her eyes shut, she released a slow, long breath. Unfortunately, the calming technique did nada for the frantic tumbling and somersaulting in her stomach. Nerves or not, she couldn’t allow the 99.9 percent probability of his animosity—okay, fine, hatred—make her turn tail and run. She’d given up everything to come to Boston and hunt him down. She couldn’t quit now. Not when she’d come so far and so much was at stake. Her future rode on finding him and forcing him to listen to her.

But first she had to locate the coldhearted bastard.

“Excuse me,” a voice demanded from behind her.

Noelle turned around and tilted her head back to meet the aloof stare of a black-suited man treating her to a not-so-subtle once-over. Suited, not tuxedoed, so he probably wasn’t a guest but an employee. From the faint tightening of his mouth as he scanned her fitted leather jacket, dark-blue skinny jeans, and knee-high combat boots, he probably assumed she didn’t belong in the ballroom. Most likely because the staff, in their starched, white shirts and black bow ties, were dressed more formally than she was.

Hell, she’d driven sixteen hours from Chicago to Boston, with everything she owned stored in her backseat and trunk, and she’d barely had time to unpack. So, damn it, she hadn’t had time to dry-clean her Christian Dior dress or find her Manolo Blahniks. Shucks.

Okay, no problem. Skating past security had been a foreseeable stumbling block. I got this. Mentally rolling her shoulders, she plastered on her best little-girl-lost expression and added a dose of sheepishness that would’ve made her father, a stellar con artist, give a proud fist pump.

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