One month before the annual fireman's charity auction, fireman, Wade Hartman announces he's gay. This year when he strolls down the catwalk, he wants to leave with a man. When the only bid he receives is a pity bid, Wade's crushed, but he lets his friend take him to dinner anyway.
Real estate conglomerate, Jared Kessler's loved Wade for years. So when he reads the article about the fireman's charity event, he knows he has to be the winning bidder. Mistaken as an unwanted bidder, Jared refuses to give up. He wants Wade, if only for one night.
One innocent dinner turns into fiery passion. But one night isn't enough for Wade. He wants Jared for real. The more Wade pushes, the closer he comes to discovering the deep, dark secrets of Jared's past. Can love conquer Jared's fears or are his wounds too deep for even love?
The evening approached at rapid speed. Too fast for Wade. He took a deep breath and straightened his tie, trying to gain the confidence to walk out on that stage.
It was the annual fireman’s charity auction. No big deal. He’d participated for the last five years. Some woman would bid, they’d go to dinner, and maybe she’d want sex and maybe she wouldn’t. But all of that was before he’d come out of the closet a month ago. This year he feared no one would bid. Or even worse, people would boo or throw things at him.
How could he be gay? After all, he was a big, beefy fireman and everyone knew gay men were fashion designers or hairdressers, right? Well, at least that’s what everyone in town had asked him over the last few weeks. His last girlfriend called him up crying, wanting to know if she had turned him on to men. Why didn’t people understand he was just attracted to the same sex? Always had been, but never acted on it.
“Wade, you’re up,” the chief’s wife, Maggie, called to him. Maggie organized the event every year to raise money for the department and plenty of women showed up, cash money in hand. “You’ll do fine. And if no one bids, I will.”
He gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you, Maggie, but I’m not sure Chief would be happy about that.”
“Oh, poo. Mrs. Harold’s already put the word out that she’s bidding on Eddie. If he can go out to dinner with another lady for charity, I can spend the evening over lobster with you.”
Wade laughed but fidgeted with his tie again.
“Stop fussing. You look great.”
The auctioneer looked down at his program. “Next up, we have Wade Hartman.”
Wade walked up the stairs and stepped into the lights. The crowd grew quiet and all eyes bore into him. Taking another breath, he walked to the center like every other year, took off his jacket, and tossed it over his shoulder.
“Standing at six-foot-two-inches with black hair and green eyes, Fireman Hartman benches two-fifty and runs the mile in five minutes flat.” The auctioneer looked up from his note cards and cleared his throat. “Let’s start the bidding at one hundred. Do I have one hundred?”
Wade forced a smile to charm the crowd, but inside his nerves screamed to run that mile now, out the door, down the street, and never come back. Last year they’d started the bid at two hundred and he went for six hundred.
No one spoke up.
He looked over at Maggie who gave him a reassuring thumbs up. Turning back to the crowd, he walked down the catwalk and modeled for all it was worth, smiling and winking at the women.
“How about seventy-five? Can I get seventy-five?”
Anger began to boil in his veins. For Christ’s sake it was for charity, after all. The men needed new equipment for their safety. And he did risk his life for these people every day.
The auctioneer cleared his throat again and frowned. “Fifty? Come on, people.”
Maggie appeared at the side of the stage, mouth open, about to speak when a voice boomed from the crowd. “One thousand!”
The crowd oohed, and he scanned to see who had bid.
“Could you say that again?” The auctioneer strained to find the bidder.
A man, decked out in an Armani suit, light brown hair, tall, with broad shoulders, stepped forward and lifted his number. “One thousand dollars.”
He’d met Jared a couple of years ago on the golf course. They’d hit it off from the beginning and had been playing a round every Tuesday ever since. Only, Jared hadn’t shown up lately.
Wade nodded his thanks to Jared and stepped off the stage.
“See, I told you someone would bid. And wow, what a price.” Maggie patted his arm as he passed her.
Yeah, a pity bid. He should be happy Jared saved his ass out there, but he wasn’t. He’d wanted a real date tonight. A date with a man. Someone who might understand and appreciate him. However, he’d gotten a friend to take pity on him. A rich friend, but a friend nonetheless.