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Shopping for a Billionaire's Wife (Shopping for a Billionaire #8) Page 22
Author: Julia Kent

“Dad,” Declan asks, his voice going low. “How does the press know we’re at Litraeon?”

“I told them.”

“You what?”

James shrugs. “I told them. PR said mentions were dropping, so it seemed prudent to keep the story in the headlines. Sending Marie here was easy, so—”

“I thought a high school intern hacked into the resort records and found us!”

“That was the cover story I fed Marie.” James waves his hand and takes a deep breath. “Good to know she’s following orders.”

“Hold on. Hold on. You told Marie our exact location—and told the press—in an effort to keep the free PR gravy train going and turn our wedding escape into a media storm?” Declan asks, his voice calm and deadly.


Declan says nothing, the only sound in the suite his ragged breaths, as he types on James’ giant phone and looks at a series of graphs.

Here it comes, I think. The emotional bomb is about to detonate. Vesuvius is about to erupt. The tsunami is hitting land.

John Cusack’s jet is about to leave the planet.

And Declan says:

“Look at that spike!” He holds out the phone, showing me the data, eyes lit up by conquest.

Our escape from my Momzilla has been distilled into a graph some intern made from an Excel spreadsheet.

My emotional landscape is nothing but color-coded mentions of Anterdec on news feeds.


“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Declan hisses, his voice filled with awe.

“That’s why you two are geniuses for doing it! I can’t believe I never thought to use my kids as PR pawns to generate more free press for the company!”

“JAMES!” I gasp.

“He’s got a point,” Declan says, wincing.



“We’re not pawns! And we didn’t plan a damn thing. Escaping from the wedding was all about my mother.”

“Your mother?”

“My mom. Marie. The Momzilla? The one who made me wear a tartan thong. Who dressed a cat up as the flower girl. The one who sabotaged my bachelorette party and who made the guys go commando in their kilts and use Fresh Balls lotion and—”

James frowns. “I thought that was for tennis balls. No wonder my game was off this morning.”

“AND!” I shout over him. “AND, the one who invited Jessica Coffin and my ex to my own wedding, all so she could—”

The realization hits me between the eyes.

“So she could get free press and gain status and make people pay attention to her creation,” I say pointedly.

Declan’s attention cuts from me to his dad to the phablet. His gaze lingers longingly on the phablet, those numbers enchanting him, a data-driven mistress I can’t quite compete with.

“Surely you’re not comparing Anterdec’s trending prominence with your mother’s petty need for a mention in Boston Magazine’s society page?” James asks with a smirk.

“I am. You are being just like my mother.”

James and Declan inhale sharply together, like I just stabbed them both between the ribs and punctured a lung.

Declan and James exchange a look. “That was low, Shannon,” my future husband says.

“She really does have claws,” James says with a whistle, giving Declan a look that tells me they’ve discussed this, and that James is only now believing something Declan told him. “No spray bottle though, right?” The corner of his mouth curls up with a confidence only a sixty-something, self-made billionaire can possess.

“If the shoe fits...” The dawning realization that I’m still in the hotel-provided bathrobe hits me as I pick up the discarded mate to the high heel my Mom took. Tightening my sash, I walk away, grabbing the coffee pot and a pitcher of cream and going to the one place where I can have some peace.

The bathroom.

Muted, heated discussion takes place outside the closed, and locked, bathroom door before I turn on the bathtub faucet and drown out those testosterone-pumped vocal cords. Just as I turn up the water, I hear James say, “Jesus, Declan. You always ran around the house naked as a little kid, so the underwear is an upgrade, but put on a robe for decency’s sake.”

I snort.

A wave of emotion starts below my navel, tightening like a wire being pulled taut between two fists. Paradoxically, I bend, curling inward, my body twisting. The world makes it unable to remain straight and upright. This involuntary muscular reaction carries a weight to it that seizes me, highlighting all my senses. The rushing water becomes millions of individual drops pinging against ceramic and marble. The bubble bath that froths in the water becomes a field of fresh lavender. The lights in the bathroom glare like searchlights on a helicopter searching for a fugitive.


I am an emotional fugitive.

My throat clamps shut and I can’t breathe. All I am is one enormous, rigid body, the air trapped in my lungs, my mind nothing more than a tornado filled with emotional debris, whirling and traveling at breakneck speed without anyone driving the funnel.

And then I break.

Giving myself permission to cry, I let it come, ignoring the arguing men outside the door, forsaking my robe, dropping it to the ground and perching on the marble edge of the luxurious tub, the room all glitter and sparkles and opulence. The keening sob that bubbles up is the sound of my self. It’s the sound of choosing me.

It’s the sound of grief.

I am grieving the loss of the Shannon who would have just taken what Mom dished out, and done so with a tight smile. Until Declan, that’s exactly how I operated. I told myself my mother meant well. I convinced myself that she acted from a good heart, from a mother’s core within that wants the best for me.

Julia Kent's Novels
» Shopping for an Heir (Shopping for a Billionaire #10)
» Shopping for a CEO's Fiancée (Shopping for a Billionaire #9)
» Shopping for a Billionaire's Wife (Shopping for a Billionaire #8)
» Shopping for a CEO (Shopping for a Billionaire #7)
» Shopping for a Billionaire's Fiancee (Shopping for a Billionaire #6)
» Christmas Shopping for a Billionaire (Shopping for a Billionaire #5)
» Complete Harmony (Her Billionaires #5.2)
» Complete Abandon (Her Billionaires #5.1)
» Shopping for a Billionaire 2
» Shopping for a Billionaire 1
» Complete Bliss (Her Billionaires #5.3)
» It's Complicated (Her Billionaires #5)
» Shopping for a Billionaire 4
» Shopping for a Billionaire 3
» Random Acts of Crazy (Random #1)
» Random Acts of Trust (Random #2)
» Her First Billionaire (BBW Menage #1)
» Her Second Billionaire (BBW Menage #2)
» Her Two Billionaires (BBW Menage #3)
» Her Two Billionaires and a Baby (BBW Menage #4)