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Shopping for a Billionaire's Fiancee (Shopping for a Billionaire #6)(3)
Author: Julia Kent

Bzzzz.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Shannon sits up and—no! Don’t cross your arms like that and put the Himalayas away!

“Declan?” It’s Grace, over my phone’s intercom. Dad insists on keeping this charming 1970s ritual. Says it makes him feel like some guy from an old television show about three gorgeous female private investigators. Right now, I’m about to grab the phone and throw it out the window.

“Yes? It better be important,” I say as I march toward Shannon, nudging her knees back to their proper, wide position, my hands hot on her waist. She looks uncertain, and I need to kiss that out of her.

“Shh!” Shannon whispers in my ear. “I don’t want her to think that we...that you and I are...you know.”

“We’re not,” I groan. “That’s the problem.”

“Declan, there’s a call for you. From New Zealand. Says it’s important. Something to do with a marketing campaign that’s glitching because of faulty web software.” Grace’s voice crackles like we’re on a police radio.

I look at the clock. “It’s the middle of the night there! Who cares if people can’t get their custom-blend cosmetics for the new spa line?” Anterdec handles a chain of twenty-three luxury hotels and spas in New Zealand. We’re rolling out a new product line. In exchange for giving me Mom’s engagement ring, Dad got a concession out of me: fix the nightmare project in New Zealand. What had started out as a nice, cushy contract had turned into an international disaster. I’d left the project a year ago in fabulous shape and it had disintegrated. The developers assured me that going “live” would be glitchless.

They lied. Developers lie. You know those Dilbert cartoons where the marketing people are portrayed as dunderheads who have no link to logic or reality? Who do you think writes that comic strip?

A developer.

“And you’re interrupting me because...”

“Because the system’s crashing and customer service is lighting up in Indonesia and—you need to take this call. It’s the CEO.”

“Fine,” I snap. Grace disappears. So does Shannon, wiggling out of my arms and re-buttoning her coat. A whiff of her perfume, light and feminine, tickles my nose. So does her natural scent, those legs open and waiting for me seconds ago, her body primed for me.

All traces of red, except for her lips, vanish as she folds herself back from the unfolding, making her outer package professional again.

One important, throbbing thing of mine doesn’t vanish, though. I grab her and pull her to me, the kiss hot and sweet. She tastes like coffee and vanilla, like beeswax and sunshine, the smear of her lipstick making our kiss more urgent. I’m groaning again and I need her.

I can’t wait to put that ring on her finger.

I can’t wait to see her wearing nothing but that ring.

“A quickie?” she whispers, fingers already on my belt buckle, hand feeling exactly how much I’ve missed her. I know damn well I’ve picked the perfect woman to marry, because who else offers you sweet relief in the middle of an international software failure? A woman who gets that is the woman you want bearing your children.

The intercom coughs. Grace’s voice pours out. “Dec? Three calls now from New Zealand, and one from Indonesia. What do I tell them? I’m getting screamed at in two different languages and across three time zones here.”

Shannon’s hands freeze.

This is brutally unfair.

When I was six, and Terry got to go on a school trip to Disneyworld. It wasn’t fair. I cried for three days and begged to be allowed to go, but Dad was too busy with business travel and mergers, while Mom explained ad nauseam that Terry was in the band and was marching in a parade. If that was supposed to make me feel better, it backfired.

I learned that the world just isn’t fair.

Shannon’s unmoving hands on my belt buckle is a nasty reminder of that lesson.

“Damn,” I hiss as she “helps” by re-buckling my belt, tucking my shirt in. Not that there’s much room for it. I have the equivalent of a baseball bat in my pants.

She pats the front of my pants in place and smooths it, which is like pouring salt on a shark bite.

“You need to go fix this,” she says, reaching up to brush my hair out of my eyes. I keep forgetting to get it cut, and she’s asked me to grow it out. Likes the look, she says.

“I need to have you pinned beneath me with those garters giving my kidneys a massage,” I growl.

“Later. My place?” She hasn’t moved in with me. Yet. Says she wants to wait until we’re engaged. Meanwhile, she still shares that tiny little one-bedroom apartment with her sister. Her best friend, Amanda, is like a third roommate, and then there’s the Ghost of Crazyass Mothers-in-Law who haunts the place, barging in at will.

I love Marie. I do. I just love her in the abstract.

“My place,” I grunt. “Not yours. There’s no way we’re going to try to have sex at your place again. Ever.” I frown, and she knows exactly what I mean.

The Incident.

“It won’t happen again, you know,” she says with a pleading look in her eyes.

“Right. Because I am never having sex with you in your apartment. Ever. Therefore, it will never happen again.” The burn of The Incident haunts me. It happened last week.

Just after I decided to propose.

Shannon stops trying to argue. She reaches for a hug and my hand slides up that nice, hot thigh and sinks into—

Oh, sweet Jesus.

“Declan!” she hisses, pulling back, her cheeks as pink as the place I just touched.

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