Prelude to an Auction

By Lote <>

Rated: PG

Submitted: May 2002

Summary: Lois set out the bait for the green-eyed monster when she joined the auction in the episode "When Irish Eyes are Killing." Clark took the bite in hopes of getting her out of the auction list, or did he just set himself up further into the trap?

Author's note: I'd like to thank Merry and Tricia for their work beta reading this story. Thanks also to Mela who GE'd the story. But most of all, thanks to the people on Zoom's board for encouraging me to write it.


How was she able to distance herself from him? How was she going to start treating him like she would a normal friend when she realized that he was the one she loved? Lois sighed softly, her eyes straying to her partner who was oblivious to her thoughts. He had been avoiding her, ever since he made that stupid decision that they were better off apart than together. She knew he still loved her but he was stubborn enough to insist that they stopped seeing each other. Now even their friendship was affected.

It was awkward being around him, trying to act as if she wasn't in love with him when all she wanted to do was to show the world how much she loved him, cherished him. Their conversations were stilted, except for the times they talked about work, there wasn't anything they could talk about. How different was it from when they were together before this- they used to be able to talk about anything under the sun. He was her confidante, the only one with whom she could open up without fearing betrayal. Yet, here they were, tiptoeing around each other, walking on eggshells. It was frustrating, to say the least.


She started at the touch on her shoulder. Turning around, she met Perry's sympathetic gaze. "Sorry, Perry," she blushed. "I must've wandered off. I know, I know. I don't get paid to do nothing," she said gruffly, trying to cover up her seeming weakness.

"Come into my office, Lois," Perry motioned to her as he turned back, ignoring her remarks.

She sighed softly, but followed him. After she had made herself comfortable, she waited for Perry to speak. However, her editor seemed to have a different idea as he sat behind his desk, staring at her. Bothered by the scrutiny, Lois spoke up, "What did you want me for, Perry?"

"What's going on, Lois?" he answered her with a question.

"Going on? What do you mean?" She tried the innocent act, not really wanting to go into the whys of things.

"Lois, I didn't become the Chief Editor because I can yodel. Now, what happened between you and Clark? What's going on with my top reporting team?"

Lois struggled to explain. At last, she muttered, staring at her lap, "Perry, it's personal."

"Don't give me the personal crap. When it's affecting your work, it's no longer personal."

Lois's head snapped up at the harsh tone. She never thought that Perry could ever say such a thing to her. But before she could respond, Perry put up his hand, his expression softening. "Honey, both of you can barely communicate to do your work. Now, I'd like to help, but I cannot do that if you don't tell me what's wrong." His voice was gentle this time round.

She bit her lips, debating what to say. She couldn't reveal Clark's secret, yet it was that very secret that was keeping them apart. How she wished that Clark wasn't Superman! She gasped silently at the thought. It was ironic that she could be so belligerent about it when less than a year back, she would've welcomed the news — that was if he had told her instead of her finding out the way she did.

But in all fairness, it wasn't the Superman identity that was keeping them apart. It was Clark's — she refused to think about her part in this fiasco — obvious stubbornness over what seemed to be a ridiculous assumption. After all, hadn't she been dangling over the jaws of death long before he came into her life? What was one more source of danger? Nothing- that was the problem. Having her life threatened because of her job or because of her association with Superman was just that, a threat. Who cared for what reason? Not her. No, it was Clark who was bothered. It was Clark who minded.


She sighed. Perry was still waiting for an answer. "It's…Clark…" Tears gathered in her eyes even though she refused to let them fall. She wasn't going to cry over a man who obviously was too obtuse for his own good. Steadying herself, she continued, "Clark decided we should go our separate ways. Don't ask me why. He had this insane idea that we were better off as friends."

"What about you?" Perry asked gently, hearing the exasperation in her voice. At least she wasn't off on the deep end, wallowing in self-pity.

"Me? I…I…I don't know." Suddenly the dam broke. "I don't want to go back to being friends. It's not possible to go back to being friends. You saw how it was out there. You said it yourself; our work is suffering because we're unable to communicate!"

Lois leapt out of her chair and started pacing, her eyebrows creased in a frown. "Other than work, he's been avoiding me. Trying to act as if I'm not there, as if I'm a stranger. It's so exasperating. Even when we were just friends, he never acted that way," she ranted.

Perry watched her pace. "What are you going to do?"

Lois stopped and stared at him, amazed. Hadn't he heard what she said?

Perry grinned. "Well, I've never known you to back off from something you really want. So it stands to reason that you aren't about to give up now."

"Yeah, well." She flopped back into the chair. "What can I do if he won't even spare a glance my way?"

"Hmm…" Perry turned to open one of his desk drawers and withdrew a sheet of paper. Not sparing a glance at it, he passed it over to Lois.

Lois reluctantly accepted, wondering what Perry had in mind. She scanned the content of the paper and then looked up. "You're not serious!?"

"Why not?" he challenged.

"Perry, you know how I hate doing it," she whined.

"It's for a good cause, Lois. Besides, Clark cannot possibly ignore you when you're up there in the spotlight."

"Hmm…" Lois was seeing the possibilities. Perry was right. After all, she knew the reason Clark was avoiding her was not because he no longer loved her, but because he couldn't help but still love her. So he had to keep his distance. What better way to test his resolve than to make him feel jealous? She knew that Clark had a jealous streak in him a mile wide. Looking back at Perry, she grinned wickedly. "You might be right."

Perry grinned back. Clark wouldn't know what hit him, once Lois was done with him. "Darlin', go out there and do your stuff."

Her grin widened. "Sure, Chief."


"Liz, you got a minute?" Lois asked the blonde woman sitting near Clark loudly enough to catch his attention. Out of the corner of her eyes, she saw him casting a curious glance her way. In fact, a lot of the people in the newsroom looked her way. It wasn't often that she approached the woman who had taken over Cat Grant's job as the social columnist. People, who knew Lois, knew that she hadn't enough patience for gossips.

Liz looked up, surprised as well. "What's up?" she asked, not believing the *great* Lois Lane deigned to talk to 'little old' her.

"Well, I heard that you're in charge of the auction this year," Lois stated.

"Yeah, why?" Liz was curious; she had been told not to approach Lois about the auction. Everyone advised her not to waste her time since Lois never ever participated.

She wasn't the only one; everyone who was within hearing distance was curious, especially Clark. He wondered what Lois was up to. He had seen her following Perry into his office, looking lost and miserable. Then, she had walked out of it in a happier frame of mind, by the smile adorning her face. He had been curious about the conversation that had gone on in there, but hadn't wanted to eavesdrop. Now, he wondered if he should have.

"I've been thinking that I've not been doing my part in helping out. After all, the auction is for a good cause. So I thought I might participate this year." Her voice carried across the newsroom.

From somewhere, a voice called out, "Well, I'll be damned!"

Lois turned, smiling seductively to the crowd. "Well boys, this is the time for you to save up. I'm available to the highest bidder," she winked, not looking at Clark. She didn't dare look at him, fearing that her plan might not work after all. At least as long as she didn't know, there was hope that he had reacted the way she wanted him to react.

Liz picked up her jaws from the floor and grinned widely. This was a coup. To have Lois Lane on board, not one of the organizers before her had managed to do it. Of course, she hadn't done anything. Still to have Lois Lane on auction during her 'term of office' so to speak just made her year. She could boast to her friends that she had done what seemed impossible. Still, she had to make sure. "Are you sure, Lois? If you are, sign here." She eagerly pushed the registration form at Lois.

Clark, the silent observer, was not very silent in his head. The green- eyed monster reared its head when he saw Lois's seductive smile. No, actually it reared its head when she made the announcement. As long as he had known her, she had never participated. Her main argument being that it was demeaning to womanhood to be auctioned off. It was a remnant of the slavery of women by men, so she claimed. Yet here she was, signing up for the very thing she swore she would never do.

And that smile. He knew she was trying to make him jealous, and she was succeeding. But he wasn't about to let her see it. No, he had better control than that. "I thought you said that hell would freeze over before you'd ever even consider doing this." Clark winced at the sarcastic tone of his voice. He hadn't wanted to even comment, and yet it came out before he could stop it. Lois spared him a glance, her heart skipping a beat at the look on his face. 'Yes! I've got him now,' she thought, giving a silent thanks to Perry for his brilliant suggestion. "Well, I guess hell has frozen over," she answered casually, signing the form with a flourish. "Besides, I'm a free woman now. No boyfriends to bother me. Perhaps, I'll fall in love with the guy who wins me."

'Over my dead body!' Clark was astounded by the vehement nature of his thought. He was definitely not over her. Why couldn't she see that it was for her own good that he was staying away? There was no way for him to be near her and just be friends. He loved her too much, too long to be just friends. They were never just friends. Even when they — no, she — had denied the attraction, there was always this awareness between them, this chemistry. That was what made them work so well together. And that was what was keeping them apart till he learnt to control it.

"Are you sure? What if nobody wants to?" He challenged her.

"Are you kidding, Kent? She's the hottest babe," Ralph sputtered, earning a scathing look from Lois and a glare from Clark.

"Are you saying that you wouldn't bid on me?" Lois raised her eyebrow, throwing the gauntlet back. She wanted to do a tap dance from the way Clark looked. Of course, another part of her wanted desperately to console him, his hurt being so obvious.

"We'll see, won't we?" he shrugged, turning back to his work as if he didn't care one way or another. However, he knew in his heart that he was going to bid, going to try and outbid others just to save her from herself. What else could he do?

His superhearing caught Lois's words, "We'll definitely see." Lois smiled at Liz and strolled back to her own desk. She was definitely looking forward to the auction. There was no way that he wouldn't bid on her. She'd stake her life on it. In a way, she was staking her life on it. Her future life to be exact.


Clark couldn't stand it anymore. He was going crazy picturing Lois on the auction block and every eligible and ineligible male vying for her. What got into her? She wasn't acting like the Lois he knew at all. How could she expose herself to such risk? What if she ended up with an axe murderer or something like that? He couldn't stand thinking about it. And the whispers around the newsroom weren't helping either. The guys were all discussing the 'miracle' as they called it, and betting who'd win a night in town with Lois. The ladies were all gossiping the reasons for Lois's actions.

No, he had to get out of the newsroom before he went crazy. He glanced at Lois who busied herself with work. It had been all he could do to have ignored her the last few days. If only she knew how much he was suffering trying to stay away from her, she wouldn't have taken this almost neurotic step of selling herself to the highest bidder, even if it was only for one night and for a good cause.

His heart skipped every time he saw her, his body's first reaction was to hold her in his arms and kiss her senseless. His eyes would love to drink their fill of her, her voice was music to his ears, and his soul just longs to warm itself in her presence. All these he had to fight every time she was around, which was practically every day for the past few days. And each time, his soul withered a little after being denied its sustenance. How could she not know this?

Forcing himself to look away and walk away was even harder at this very moment. But he finally managed to pry his eyes from staring at Lois and command his reluctant legs to move towards the stairs. Once out of the newsroom and away from Lois's presence, he was once again in full command of his body. Running up the stairs at a speed just below the speed of sound, he soon reached the roof. Once there, he shot up into the air and took off to his favorite thinking spot.

Was it worth it, this pain of separation? Of course it was. He would do anything, anything at all to keep her safe. Why couldn't Lois see that? Her life was in constant danger by her association with him, with Superman. Hadn't the threat to his parents' lives taught her anything? What about her recent abduction?

Clark sighed. That wouldn't be Lois at all. Somehow she got it into her head that he was being unreasonable in his stance about their relationship and came up with the plan to make him jealous. He could've told her that she needn't bother, that he was definitely jealous. Every time he saw her interacting with someone else, be it male or female, he was jealous. Jealous at the ease she spoke to them, laughing with them, when their own conversations were stilted and awkward at the best of times.

'This isn't helping, Clark,' he told himself. 'What is needed is a plan to stop Lois from going through with the auction.'

Yes, that was what he needed to focus on. But his mind drew a blank when he tried to fish for ideas. Trying to stop Lois was harder than trying to stop a runaway train. What he needed was inputs from his parents. Yes, they'd have some ideas for him, he was sure.


"What! I don't believe you would be so stupid as to have done that," Martha scolded her son.

"But mom…"

"Don't 'but mom' me, Clark. I'm not going to help you in this because I think you're wrong."

Clark looked at his dad for help and only received a shrug. The look on his face said it all. He was on his own. Still he had to try once more to convince his mom. "Mom, you don't understand."

"What don't I understand?" Martha asked, her hands on her hips.

"Both of you nearly died because someone found out about me. And a few days ago, Lois was kidnapped because of me. Being associated with me is dangerous."

"So what would you have us do? Deny you're our son? Lois denying she doesn't love you? You going off to be Superman full time?"

Clark flinched. His experience of being Superman all the time wasn't a happy one, especially when all the world thought Clark was dead. Being Superman all the time wasn't the way out of the dilemma. "You're my parents. I can't deny that relationship. But Lois can still disassociate herself from me. There's nothing to stop her from doing it."

Martha sighed, frustrated at how stubborn her son was. How could he not see the connection between himself and Lois? To separate one from the other was to kill both of them. She saw how devastated Lois was when she thought Clark was dead. And she saw how Clark fared when he thought Lois was marrying Lex Luthor. She had long come to the conclusion that it was easier for them to stop breathing than to be separated.

Just look at how Clark was faring at the moment. There was no doubt that he was in incredible pain. From what Clark told her about Lois's actions, she had little doubt that this forced separation was killing Lois too. "Clark…" she began before faltering. She could never resist her son's puppy dog look whenever he used it on her. "All right. Give me a few minutes to think about it."

Clark grinned, relieved that his mom came through. "Thanks, mom," he said, leaning to kiss her cheeks. "Meanwhile, I'll help dad around the farm."


Arriving back home, he was feeling more positive. His mother's idea was going to work, he was sure of it. Of course, if it didn't, Lois was going to be very pissed at him. But even that was all right with him. At least, she would be mad enough to stay away from him. After all, that was the objective of this whole breaking up process.

He called Liz with his idea. "Hey, Liz. This is Clark. How are you doing?"

"Fine. Just trying to turn in."

"That's good to hear."

"Clark, don't take this the wrong way, but why are you calling me tonight?" Liz asked suspiciously. She remembered this afternoon's fiasco.

"Why am I calling this late at night? Well, I've an idea about the auction. Since you're in charge, I thought you're the person to bring it up to."

In her bedroom, Liz's eyebrow snapped together. Till this afternoon, neither Lois nor Clark had ever expressed their interest in the auction. Suddenly, Lois signed up for it and now, Clark had an idea to run by her. She wasn't a bimbo, no matter what people thought. She had known that Clark and Lois was a couple and given the way they were behaving the last couple of days, she suspected that they had a major tiff. Lois was trying to make Clark jealous, that was very obvious. But this idea of Clark's, well, she didn't know his motives. And what she didn't know, she was always curious to find out. "What's the idea?"

"Well…usually we just have the women up there and bidding starts. The best most of us men know about the women being bidden were their names and jobs. So most of us bid based on looks. And I've heard of very bad dates, bad enough to scare the men from participating again the year after. Which is a shame since it's for charity. So I was thinking it would be better if the men had more information on the various women on auction. That way they could make their choices early, informed choices mind you." Clark crossed his fingers, hoping that Liz would buy his idea.

On her side, Liz had narrowed her eyes. She couldn't pick what Clark's motives were. But the idea he was proposing was sound enough, nothing too outrageous. "Sounds possible. We could get the women to write something up."


Liz pulled away from the receiver, rubbing her abused ears and looked at the phone curiously. Gingerly, she put it back near her ears, asking, "Why not?"

"Sorry," Clark apologized sheepishly. "It's just that…well…who would want to write bad things about oneself. We need an impartial way to get the information we want from them. Like an interview and perhaps some photo shoots of them?"

"Hmm…what type of questions and photo shoots do you have in mind?" Liz saw a glimmer of where Clark was heading. She listened as he detailed out his idea.

She wasn't sure she liked being caught in the middle between Lois and Clark, but saw no way to head it off. The idea Clark was proposing had merits. Perhaps if she tried to tone it down, she wouldn't lose her most important auction 'item'.


"You've got to be crazy!"

"I'm not sure I want to do it."

"Who came up with this *brilliant* idea, anyway?"

Liz winced at the objections and stubborn faces when she announced what she termed as the 'plan'. She decided she had better do something about it before everyone pulled out of the auction and left her empty handed. "Come on, an interview isn't that bad. As reporters, it'll be fun to be on the other end of an interview."

Lois had been listening very carefully at the suggestions Liz brought up, and to give her some credit, she didn't explode as did many of the others. But then again, she had insider's information on exactly who came up with the *brilliant* idea. Martha had called her last night to inform her of what Clark was planning. 'It paid to be close to your future mother-in-law,' she thought, wistfully wondering when Clark would get over this idiotic notion of breaking up and they could get on with their life together.

Ever since Clark proposed, the idea of them married was getting better and better. She remembered the time when she was about to marry Luthor and she had been testing out her surnames. Lois Lane Kent had an incredible ring to it. 'But unless I can make Clark see that we're meant to be together, that's not going to happen.'

She tuned back to the conversation around her, having noticed from the corner of her eyes that Clark was eavesdropping. He was pretending to be busy at his desk, but from the distracted air about him, she knew he was using his powers to hear what they were discussing in the conference room. The current conversation was centered around the photo shoot that Liz was suggesting.

"I don't see how modeling swimwear and evening gowns would help these men choose. It's rather demeaning," one of the reporters from the city desk objected.

Lois felt it was time she interjected. Clark expected it of her anyway. Though she wasn't about to concede this round to him. "Calm down, everyone. Let's give Liz a chance here. This is her first time organizing this, and this idea does have some merits."

All the women in the conference room looked at Lois as if she had morphed into someone totally unrecognizable. "Lois, if you don't mind me asking, but weren't you the one who objected to beauty pageants because you felt it was demeaning?" someone from the printing room asked.

Lois grinned evilly. "Yes, definitely. But what you guys don't see is the potential to mess around with their heads," she said with a quick glance to the newsroom. She saw Clark blanching, a reaction which satisfied her immensely.

"Oh, do tell," said Liz, having caught Lois's glance. This was turning out to be an interesting auction after all.

"From what you said, the interview questions were be drafted by the guys, right?"

"Yes," Liz answered.

"It doesn't really matter what the questions are, anyway. What matters is how we answer it as it'll be caught on video. Given the way the questions were phrased to make us uncomfortable and unsettled, let's not give them the satisfaction. Instead, dress to the max, be a siren, and get them hot and bothered. They'll not know what hit them."

There was laughter around the room as the women slowly came round to the idea. The way Lois put it, it wasn't so demeaning after all. "But what about the photo shoots?" asked someone.

Lois glanced once more into the newsroom and then leaned forward as if she was going to confide something important to them. "Well…"


Liz had to say one thing for Lois; she could talk people into doing anything. She had managed to convince the mob to give Liz's 'plan' a try and they soon found it a fun activity. Some of them used the 'plan' as an opportunity for revenge on some of the cruel things the men were saying about them. Liz didn't mind it a bit; she was after all a feminist where it counted.

So here she was at the one interview she was looking forward to; Lois's. Clark had been appointed as the interviewer by Perry, so she was looking forward to seeing the sparks fly, especially after seeing the low-cut blouse and mini skirt Lois wore to the interview. If she were a man, she would say that Lois looked sizzling hot.

Clark took one look at Lois and knew that he was in trouble. It was all he could do to stop himself from hauling her out of the chair and back home for a change of clothes. Given that he had never seen this particular outfit of hers, she probably bought it special for the interview. He had no doubt that by the time the interview ended, he would be a blabbering fool, if he managed to last that long.

What made him think this was a good idea, anyway? Oh yes, it was because he never thought Lois would go for something so sexist as this. But then again, just her participating in the auction indicated he wasn't dealing with the normal Lois. This woman before him was a practical stranger. A stranger in the body of the woman he loved. Giving her a frown, he sat on the opposite chair.

"Are you both ready?" Liz asked, her hand steady on the video-cam.

Both nodded and the tape rolled.

Clark cleared his throat, finding it difficult to talk all of a sudden. Glancing at the sheet of paper, he recited the first question, "So perhaps you can state your name and occupation."

She gave him a sultry look, and leaned forward, exposing her cleavage. "Well, my name is Lois Lane and I'm an investigative reporter," she answered him, her voice smoky and sexy. Looking directly at the camera, she continued suggestively, "Ever wonder about my investigation skills?"

Clark stifled a groan, his eyes straying ever so often to the exposed cleavage. 'Down, boy,' he thought. He was fuming that she was exposing herself to all and sundry. 'Yes, that's right. Focus on the anger and not the seductive woman before you,' said a little voice in his mind. He glanced at the questions and purposely picked a question that might unsettle her, perhaps also something to remind her that she was still in love with him. 'Isn't that contradicting to your original intention?' asked the voice.

He ignored it. "Er…Ms. Lane, are you married, or involved with someone?"

Lois arched her eyebrow, all the while a Mona Lisa smile gracing her lips. "Hmm…that's an interesting question actually. I was engaged to be married at one time, and was recently involved with someone, but since he was the one who let me go, I consider myself to be a free agent."

'Ouch,' Clark thought, wincing. That was a direct hit. Though she didn't say it, but it seemed that she laid the blame solely on him for their separation. 'It's true though, isn't it?' the little voice chimed in.

Once again Lois looked at the camera, directing her comments at the audience, "I'm open to suggestions, of course."

Behind the camera, Liz was trying her best not to laugh.

Clark gritted his teeth, all the while imagining rearranging the teeth of the imaginary fellow who was willing to give Lois some suggestions. "Ms. Lane, what would be your ideal evening, if you can get someone to plan it for you?" he managed to ask. His mind flashed back with regret to the numerous evenings they spent with each other. He wished he could get back those days, but it was impossible given his decision. Of course, Lois wasn't acting as expected. She hadn't been acting as expected ever since his decision, other than the protest.

Lois pretended to consider the question. If she were to answer honestly, it would be to spend the evening in his arms, floating over the clouds and looking at the stars. Well, even if not floating over the clouds, she'd settle for being in his arms. She missed being in it, missed the feeling of safety and comfort that came with it. At long last, she leaned back, a picture of total relaxation, and yet, still conveying the sensual elegance she was striving for.

She gazed at him and then the camera with sexy bedroom eyes, before answering in a sultry voice, "What is my ideal evening? I would say a dashing date picking me up in his convertible, a romantic candle light dinner in an Italian restaurant, and add some mood music that we can sway around to, just enjoying the feel of his body close to mine. Then we would go back to my apartment where he would draw my bath, pouring my favorite scent into it. We would enjoy the bath with a glass of champagne, and well, you can imagine what would come next." She threw Clark a sultry look at the statement.

Clark struggled to maintain his poker face, trying not to react to her words and the looks she was giving him. Was it his imagination or was the air-conditioner not working? It felt incredibly hot in the room.

Of course, Clark wasn't the only one affected. Liz was amazed at this Lois. In fact, she had never seen this particular Lois before. The scene Lois painted was vivid in her mind; she wouldn't mind that particular evening herself. What woman could resist? Of course, Lois probably only wanted one man to share that evening with, and that man was right in front of her.

Before Clark could say anything more, Lois put up a hand. "Can we take a break for a moment? It's a little warm in here." Before either Liz or Clark could respond, she swiftly left out the door.


In the restroom, Lois washed her face and gathered her courage once more. The interview was harder than she thought. A cynical part of her wondered if all her efforts were worth it. When had Lois Lane ever be so desperate for a man that she would resort to things that she wouldn't be caught doing in the first place? This was definitely the first time for her.

But was Clark worth the effort? She groaned when she thought of giving up and living her life without him. She had a taste of it when he 'died' at the hands of Clyde. It wasn't a pleasant thing at all. In fact, it was the first time she finally admitted to herself that she needed Clark in her life. That she would be lost without him.

Drawing a deep breath, she knew that she couldn't give up, not now, not ever. She could never imagine her life without Clark. Or if she did, it was a colorless, soulless life. It was time to finish the interview and hope for the best.


Clark sat through the viewing of the interviews and the photos of the various auction participants with infinite patience. The men were all a little shell-shocked at the videos and pictures. They all vacillated between congratulating and wanting to hang whoever had the idea for the interviews. How were they ever to work with these women ever again?

Clark kept quiet as they discussed the various interviewees, except for Lois. Fortunately, everyone knew that Lois was an off-limits topic around Clark, so didn't make any comments while he was there. But once they thought he was out of earshot, they started to discuss her. Clark debated between revealing his secret and wanting to kill the people discussing her in that manner.

The idea had backfired on him. Sitting through the interview was even worse than conducting the interview. And seeing those photos of her, he seethed that some photographer had seen her body first hand. Now, he definitely had one hell of a fight to win the bidding war on her. He groaned. He should've known not to trust his mother's idea when in the first place, she hadn't wanted to help him. He wasn't looking forward for the auction. Not at all.


The auction was going well, soon it would be her turn. She snuck a peek at Clark who was standing there, looking grim. He hadn't participated in the auction at all, not even one bid. Of course, she was glad to note that. But was he going to bid on her?

At last, her turn came. Standing on the stage, the bidding started. She heard Clark's voice, and a sigh escaped her. She hadn't realized that she had been holding her breath. Relaxing, she kept chanting to herself, 'come on, Clark.' Suddenly, an Irish voice broke through her concentration, and she found herself gazing into a pair of beautiful yet familiar Irish eyes.