Excerpt: Madam Alana - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

I run the most elite auction in the world.

Candidates and bidders come from all over the globe hoping to change their lives.

And I deliver.

I’m in the business of bringing couples together in a mutually beneficial and legally binding marriage. The terms are three years for no less than a million dollars a year, not including my commission. Once a pair signs on the dotted line, the contract ensures there is no going back.

Most couples find over time they are a love match, but not all.

Before I took over The Marriage Auction, there wasn’t an extensive vetting process. Some candidates were subjected to horrors that haunt my every waking moment.

I vowed to change that. To stand up for those who deserve more and to release them from the wrongs inflicted upon them by circumstance and chance.

What my bidders and candidates don’t know is that I understand exactly what they are experiencing.

I wasn’t always known as Madam Alana.

Once upon a time, I too was purchased in The Marriage Auction… And this is my story.

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Excerpt: Madam Alana
By Audrey Carlan

Excerpt: Madam Alana

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Audrey Carlan comes a new story in her Marriage Auction series. MADAM ALANA is out tomorrow, but you can read a sneak peek below now!

Christophe reached into his inner jacket pocket and pulled out four rings. Three of them were gold with a line of sparkly diamonds across the front. The last was a white-gold band with the same line of diamonds across the top, though the size of that one was much larger.

He gave the officiant the one I believed was for him while Christophe took my hand. He spoke the next words with conviction.

“Alana Kim, this ring represents your past. Whatever came before matters not on this day.” He slid the first band across my left ring finger. He held the second just past the first knuckle when he spoke again. “This ring represents the present. The gift of your presence in my life right now in this moment.”

I swallowed against the emotion unexpectedly coating my throat. It was impossible to not get swept away with his lovely promises. Tears filled my eyes as his beautiful words touched me in a place none had before.

“And the last ring represents our future. May we have as many days together as we desire. My heart belongs to you.”

I sucked in a sharp breath at hearing those words.

My heart belongs to you.

He bent, turned my hand over, and kissed the center of my palm warmly, sending chills skittering down my spine pleasantly.

I stood there, stunned. Uncertain how to proceed. This man had just offered me his heart when I was only marrying him for his money.

Shame, thick and tepid, oozed through my mind. Did he not understand that we were marrying for convenience and companionship, not love? Surely Angus had gone over the contract in great detail as he had with each candidate. I’d agreed to being purchased as a doting wife for five million dollars and five years of my time. Love was not for sale, nor did I think I was capable of romantic love after what I’d been through. Celine was the only person who had that from me, and my feelings for her were that of a sister. Even my own mother had destroyed the love I’d felt for her when she abandoned me.

“The ring, Alana?” The officiant broke me from my reverie.

I reached for the platinum circle on autopilot and held it aloft.

“Say what you wish, mon coeur,” Christophe encouraged.

My heart.

I closed my eyes, desperate to push aside all the ugly thoughts that were at war with the kindness he was giving so easily. It was unnerving. No one had ever been genuinely kind to me, aside from Celine, in years.

“Christophe…” I spoke so low I could hardly hear myself. What did you say to a man who was about to change your entire life for the better? He had no idea the horrors he was saving me from. The brutal, meager existence I’d been living up to this point. But could I trust what I was seeing at face value? A lot of people were excellent at pretending. He very well could have been a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Regardless of my concerns, I decided that since I’d never have a moment such as this again, because I didn’t plan on marrying after Christophe, I’d be honest. Give a bit of myself to this man who’d offered me not only financial security, but his very heart.

I didn’t know what to do with one’s heart, but I did know what I could reciprocate that might express a fragment of my appreciation.

He extended his left hand. I held it, hovering the ring over his finger.

“Christophe, with this ring, I promise to be a loyal, faithful, and supportive wife. I devote the next five years of my life to making you as happy as possible and standing by your side in all things.” I slid the ring on and stared at the diamonds twinkling back at me.

When I looked from the ring to his face, I was surprised to see he was smiling joyously.

For a moment, I once again imagined we were different people and that this was the best day of our lives. Happiness stretched between us. And for the first time in a long time, I let myself enjoy it.

“By the powers vested in me by the great state of Nevada, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride, Mr. Toussaint.”

Christophe cupped my cheeks and brought his face closer to mine. I could feel his warm breath coast across my lips. “May I kiss you, Alana?” he asked.

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