She hit the shower and began dressing for the gala when Chuck arrived home. She walked into the living room in her black jumpsuit as he opened the door. He whistled opening his arms as she approached, "You look fantastic, Sunshine." He kissed her rubbing his hands up her arms.
"Thanks, Chuck," she said smiling at him. "Do we have time for a drink? I should probably have an appetizer in case we eat a late dinner. How about some cheese and crackers?"
"Why don't I go change while you take care of drinks? I'll take a cold beer."
Marti was just finishing a tray when Chuck walked into the kitchen. She looked up and did a double take seeing him in a tan linen suit. With his dark hair and brown eyes, he took her breath away. "I'll be fighting women off of you all night," she said walking up to touch his tie. "This is my first time to see you in a dress suit. You are one handsome son of a gun." She kissed him lightly touching his face. "You're just as sexy dressed as you are undressed."
"Thank you, love. Let's have that drink and relax. This could be a long evening."
"Shirley tells me they will be auctioning off some vacation packages. Maybe there will be one to Hawaii. If I get this new job I could take a 1-week break between jobs and we could go to Hawaii. Are you up for a vacation?"
Chuck grinned at that thought, "How did your interview go today?"
"The radio station was great; the DJ gave us lots of time. Margo took me to the MS office to meet her staff. I think a lot hinges on how it goes tonight. I need to meet as many of the MS people as possible so they know me when Margo presents me as a candidate."
"You and Shirley can hobnob and I'll stay with Tom," Chuck suggested.
"I don't know. If I introduce you to the MS ladies, I'm thinking it will clinch the job for me." Chuck shook his head in disbelief.
"No, I'm serious," she said touching his hand. "If they see I've got a committed relationship in Greenville, they will be in my corner."
"Well, I like the sound of that. I promise you one hour of hobnobbing and that will probably be my limit." He took a sip of beer and adjusted his tie as if it were choking him.
"Agreed, it may be mine as well." She leaned forward, "I love you for coming with me. I know you'd rather be in the backyard."
"You're my liebchen. I would do anything to help you." Clicking his glass to hers he said, "Let's go get this done."
Marti was prepared for the turnout at the event since Margo had mentioned the numbers. A huge ballroom was decorated in a black and white theme. She surveyed the room noticing the bar and the hundreds of mingling guests. Shirley moved her through the crowd introducing her to all the important MS people. Chuck was surprised to bump into his client, Dave, and spent time talking airplanes with him. But it was most helpful that Shirley had engineered for the Atlanta MS Manager to be seated at their table. It gave Marti a chance for a private conversation with the second most important decision-maker.
When the music started after dinner, Chuck rescued her from any more talking by taking her onto the dance floor. "You look calm, cool and collected. How do you feel?" he whispered as they slow danced.
"So far I've liked everyone I've met. I notice this job works with a lot more women."
"Pick the one who will be your mentor," advised Chuck, "And be friendly with the others. Just don't get too friendly. I watch the politics in our front office. You don't want that."
"I've gotten lots of oohs and ahs over you," she teased. "You should spin me out to show them your best move." Without hesitation Chuck spun her under his arm and pulled her back into his embrace. She gave him a mischievous grin, "I'm sure that will do it for me."
Chuck and Marti returned to their seats when they saw a gentleman heading to the podium. It was time for the summer vacation auction to begin.
The auctioneer began with a Mexican cruise. Next was a Caribbean cruise. Marti sat up straighter when he announced an inclusive Hawaiian package. Chuck entered the bidding at $500.00. It quickly rose to $600. Chuck kept going to $650. Bidding narrowed down to two competitors as Chuck countered $700 with his $750. People began to cheer on the bidders. The exchange climbed - $800 to $850. Finally, Chuck won the bid at $900.00. Marti clapped along with everyone else before the next bid started. "Thank you" she mouthed silently to Chuck and squeezed his hand under the table.
Shirley had her own bid war getting a weekend for two in Key West so she could take Tom away for his birthday. By the end of the evening, spirits were high from the lively exchanges. Marti made a point of stopping by Margo's table to say goodnight and thank her for the invitation. "You did well tonight," Margo said. "I got good feedback from the Atlanta Manager during the dancing. I'll call you tomorrow."
Aunt Shirley hugged Marti good night after they arrived home. "I'm so proud of you, punkin', I can't wait to hear what Margo says tomorrow."
"You sure made it easier for me, auntie. I promise to call the minute I know something." She and Chuck said their good nights and walked home. The minute he was in the door Chuck took off his tie and shrugged out of his jacket.
"I know how you feel. I just want to get out of these clothes," Marti said untying the halter top of her jumpsuit while she kicked off her heels. "Would you like some hot chocolate we can take to bed with us?" she asked.
"All I need is you, liebchen." Chuck tugged her hand pulling her to his bare chest. "I'm just full of love from watching you tonight. Let's go cuddle and wind down from the excitement."
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