Title: The Heart’s Bidding
Author: Jordan Riley Swan
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Story Garden
Kaylee Heart would rather run through a roaring fire than endure even a minute of public speaking. Put in an eighty-hour workweek? No problem. Shut down her grandfather’s gold-digging girlfriend? Easy peasy. Stand in front of an auction crowd and call for bids? Show her the exit.
So she has no idea how Gerald, the golden-voiced auctioneer she’s been crushing on at the local auction house, can find the courage to take the stage and have all those eyes on him every week. But as cruel fate would have it, she is about to find out.
Her family antique shop, the Vintage at Heart, has tripped over one financial hurdle too many. Kay is propelled, full speed, into her biggest phobia. The spotlight.
Terror chasing her, she’s going to have to find the will to fight and the courage to keep the family business from being closed forever. Even if the battle takes place in front of a live crowd...
Gerald launched into the next item, and the musical rhythm of his cadence wove itself into the crowd. Kay was captured again, no longer caring that she overpaid for the door.
His practiced voice caressed her ears in a silky nibble. The poetic sing-song cadence of his words was wholly sweet. Angelic, even. An idea reinforced by the evening sunshine pouring through the stained-glass windows that framed him from behind.
He seemed to be cut from the colorful light, all sharp edges and solid reality. Broad shoulders. Summer-cut, sandy blond hair. The setting sun behind the windows threw subtle shadows across his face, just enough to keep her from seeing his eye color. But she suspected they were as dark as his voice was light.
The Zion Gallery had started life as an old country church, the kind that would have had a dozen horse carriages in front of it every Sunday a hundred years ago. It was the oldest building in twenty miles and only survived because it had been converted into an auction house a few decades past, saving it from the neglect that came with the abandonment of a congregation to bigger, flashier sermons.
The stained-glass windows were mostly intact. A few pieces of clear glass replaced missing panes, creating little pockets of setting sun in a jigsaw pattern of bright colors.
Gray-haired men and women filled the oak pews. It was as if it were a Sunday morning instead of a random Wednesday night. Hands were raised, not praying or saying amen, but bidding and trying to wrest wins from one another. The old altar was not for beckoning souls toward salvation, but for attracting buyers to the next item for sale. Despite the backdrop, it was all business at the Zion Gallery.
And the stage setting made Kay’s attraction to the new auctioneer feel downright sinful. She shivered, trying her hardest to think pure thoughts. The whole experience was a contradiction. She had to be careful or she might find herself accidentally bidding on the entire place.
“What in the world are you doing?” Bernard asked her. He craned back over the pew ahead of her, no amusement in his pale eyes. He lifted his arm from around his girlfriend Ruth as he turned to face his granddaughter.
Kay untangled her attention from the net of the auctioneer’s voice as she answered. “I have no idea.”
“What?” Bernard aimed his hearing aid at her.
“Never mind, Gramps.”
“I thought you were going to stop at forty for that piece-of-junk door. Why’d you push it up a full bill?”
“Got distracted and overbid. No big deal.”
“Hold on,” Bernard said, obviously aggravated he’d have to clean up her error. Which in turn aggravated her. She hadn’t asked him to help.
Much to her horror, her grandfather called out to the auctioneer in the pause between two lots. “Hey, Gerald. Hold up a second.”
Gerald stopped his description of the next item. It appeared her grandfather knew the new auctioneer well enough to shout at him.
“Yes? What is it?” His polite voice managed to carry a brisk confidence.
“I’m sorry for stopping the show, but my granddaughter accidentally bid too high on that door,” Bernard said. “Reoffer it up, if you don’t mind.”
Kay willed herself to melt into the unforgiving wood of the bench, hoping to disappear in the grain pattern, but her bright yellow blouse was a canary call to the auction crowd. She was sure it complemented the fierce red on her cheeks from her grandfather’s call for attention.
“Gramps, no,” she whispered.
The hearing aids hanging prominently on the back of his ears were partially covered by his wavy gray hair and would never be able to pick up the soft noise of her protest, let alone broadcast it into his thick skull.
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First off, I’m being forced to write this bio against my will. My editor is over my shoulder right now and I can feel the cold, heavy weight of a Colt against the back of my neck. I begged her, “please don’t make me do this,” but she just pulled the hammer back on the pistol and replied with something I’m not allowed to repeat here. She followed up by saying that if people don’t get to know me they won’t like me, and since she already doesn’t like me (as evidenced by the fact she’s making me promote myself when it’s the last thing I want to do), I figure I better cooperate.
So, here it is . . . I like long walks on the beach, although I don’t live anywhere near one. I think dogs and cats are equally cool for different reasons, although I’m allergic to both. And I think recorded music is better than live music (I know, totally controversial, but I’m brave like that).
Hold on a second. Now she’s telling me that this isn’t a dating bio. So, scratch all that. I guess it’s supposed to be a work thing, so here you go:
Education: High school dropout.
No, seriously. Totally quit late junior year. I HATED going to the high school where I grew up. Everyone was the son or daughter of lawyers, doctors, or Wall Street investors, and I was the youngest of blue-collar parents in a house with five siblings. Needless to say, my hand-me-downs were handed down more than once. I needed out. So, I made a deal with my mother. Get my GED and she’d sign the papers for my removal. Bingo! Still, I don’t want you thinking I hate education—I did get some minor amount of college in, years later, which I absolutely loved, but I eventually let my business take over my life . . .
Which segues nicely into the next subject:
Work: I owned an antique/used furniture store for decades. It all started because I wanted to be a writer. I know, I know, what does that have to do with writing? Well, my typing speed was slow. We are talking slower even than hunt and peck. More like forage and nip. Because of my glacial typing speed, I started dictating my work and my mom transcribed it. Unfortunately, we were using microcassette recorders and that was interfering with her typing speed. I went to buy her a transcription machine, but they were so cost prohibitive I gave up looking. Then a friend mentioned eBay. He told me, “if you don’t care about condition, that’s the best place to get something.” I bought one that week, and when it arrived a few days later, I realized, “hey, there is something to this eBay thing” (bear in mind this was nearly twenty years ago). I thought, “I could do this and it would let me work from home, where I can write full time!” I went to an auction, bought a few box lots of stuff, sold them for more than I paid, bought more boxes the next time, rinse and repeat. A hal