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The Highest Bidder
Katherine Armstrong
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Eliza Jones went to the horse auction with one thing on her mind, buying back the horse her stepfather sold out from underneath her. But the arrogant cowboy she starts a bidding war with has something else in mind.
Tilden Collier discovered something much more interesting than horseflesh in the auction barn that night. But outbidding the beautiful cowgirl hadn’t made a good impression. Could giving the horse back bring them true love??

The interior of the old wooden auction barn felt hot and cramped to Eliza Jones as she stepped inside from the cold February night. The pelting Oregon rain had not let up for hours, causing humid and stale air to linger in the crowded barn. The auction ring was small and surrounded by three steep sides of bleachers. On the fourth wall, a large door let the animals through to the ring. Above the door was the auctioneer’s booth. Eliza had been to the Hermiston auction more times than she could remember, but her task had never been so important. She quickly scanned the bleachers for a seat among the other bidders.

Eliza found a seat, nearly at the top, and quickly struggled to take off her jacket, hat, and gloves before the bidding started. Eliza tried to swallow the lump in her throat, knowing this may be her last opportunity to buy back the horse that had been unfairly sold out from under her. She knew Dally would be the next horse through the door, and the anxiety of the moment made her heart race.

“Now this little filly has quite a history to her,” the auctioneer proclaimed in a high-strung drawl. “Been a college roping champion and you won’t believe her papers...,” he continued. “The bidding will start at one thousand dollars. Do I hear one-thousand dollars?” The auctioneer’s voice raced through several hundred dollars before Eliza could even get her bearings and understand what was being called. “Eighteen-hundred? Do I hear eighteen-hundred?”

Eliza quietly raised her bidding card. She only had two thousand dollars in her pocket with which to buy back her mare. Her blood boiled as she watched the horse’s handler roughly encourage her to lope around the miniature ring. Eliza’s heart raced at the sight of her old friend. Dally’s coat was sleek and her muscles were well defined. At least her current owners had treated her well, Eliza thought.

The mare’s hooves danced on the dirt floor, creating little puffs of dust as she tried to outsmart her handler. She whinnied and tossed her head before rearing up and pawing mindlessly into the air. Eliza fought the urge to run to her aid, and reminded herself it would be mere moments before Dally was her horse again.

The bidding slowed. “Do I hear eighteen-hundred and fifty?” The auctioneer tapped his pen on the counter. “This is a really nice filly, folks. I’d hate to see you miss out on her...”

“Oh, I won’t.” Eliza mumbled.

Just then, directly across from Eliza and several rows down, in the reserved seating, an arrogant cowboy’s gaze caught Eliza’s attention. He was leaning back in his chair and moved his hat aside as if to get a better view of her. Then with a challenging stare, he raised his bidding card without a glance at the horse or auctioneer before him. He casually waived away the surprised exclamation from the cowboy next to him and continued to stare at Eliza.

“Does he think this is some damned game?” she again mumbled to herself. “Keep your bids off my horse, you arrogant...”

“Nineteen-hundred?” The auctioneer expectantly looked to Eliza. The cowboy’s cold glare annoyed Eliza, and she felt a warm flush creep up her cheeks.

She raised her card. Only one hundred dollars left before her precious horse was sold to some flirtatious, arrogant low life with more money than sense.

“Two-thousand dollars? Can I get two thousand dollars?” The auctioneer returned to the cowboy.

He quietly, and as if with great purpose, raised his card and stared Eliza dead in the eye.

Oh no…two thousand. They’d reached her limit.

“Twenty-one hundred?”

The auctioneer looked back to Eliza.

She raised her card. One hundred dollars. Surely she could find it somewhere…

“Twenty-two hundred?” Again, he turned to the man Eliza considered her archenemy in this battle.

He gave her the slightest, slyest smile from under his dark mustache, and once again raised his card.

"Eliza Jones, former rodeo champ, entered the Hermiston auction with $2,000.00 in her pocket. Her only intent was to buy back her horse Dally. She loved the horse more than anything in the world and was crushed when her step father sold her. As the bidding begins she glances over to a cowboy who seems interested in not only the horse but her as well. Broken hearted she leaves the auction after being outbid by the cowboy. Little did she realize that the cowboy who'd won her was a young man she met a long time ago, a young man she remembered fondly. She walked past a makeshift pen when she noticed Dally and walked over to the horse. She didn't see the cowboy walking up to them as she was feeding the horse cookies. Tilden Collier was a man one didn't forget and since he had met her that one time so long ago this young woman was some one he wished he had taken more time to get to know. Still trying to get her horse back she offered Tilden Dally's son as a fair trade, he sounded interested and when she left for home he promised to call her.

After a month and he never called Eliza thought that it was just another line that cowboys used. When she got a call from Tilden's friend stating he was in a bad auto accident and wondered if she might come out, she didn't expect what was to take place.

She falls in love with Tilden yet he feels he can offer her nothing and sends her away. It's only after he sees what he's lost does he begin to recover and soon is back to his old self again.

A story that will touch readers hearts and yes prove that there is that special magic that only love can bring to a person. I love this story and feel a bit of Eliza is in all women who can feel such compassion and love no matter what the circumstances. It will leave every reader with a glow that is the mark of a talented writer. Ladies read this one it's great." Overall rating: 5 Hearts Reviewer: Louise Riveiro-Mitchell, The Romance Studio

Fiction Books :: Romance Books :: Contemporary Books
Fiction Books :: Westerns Books

ISBN: 1593741413
ISBN(13-digit): 9781593741419
Copyright: 2008
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Binding: Perfect
No. of Pages: 224
Paper Weight (lb): 9.6

If you like this book, you may also enjoy:

My Pretty Lady              None So Blind              Lavender and Love             
Marilyn A. Gardiner Carol McPhee Rosemary Goodwin

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