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Shopping for a Billionaire's Wife (Shopping for a Billionaire #8) Page 24
Author: Julia Kent

“What about our first date?” I ask. He looks like a hot seal. “I’ll concede it was an actual date, and not the business dinner we both pretended to share. You brought me a corsage, after all.”

We share a smile only two people in love can volley back and forth.

“You were so, so insecure,” he says, his voice changing, the register dropping into a deep territory of musing. “Steve had convinced you that nothing inside you was of any value. His need to be the authority in every situation turned you into a vigilant puppy.”

I freeze.

“People take the deepest good inside others and use it to meet their own needs. If you’re lucky, you find someone who reciprocates. Who potentiates. Like you.” He’s frowning slightly, so mired in the tangled web of parsing through his point that he doesn’t realize it. The tub is huge. I can’t just reach across and wipe away the tension from his face.

I also don’t want to interrupt him. Some piece of this is resonating within me. I have a lock inside me, and the key is out there, one of a thousand on a big, fat metal circle of keys that Declan holds. For the next six or so decades his job is to pick out a key, try it in my lock, and keep going until the right one fits.

I have no idea what happens when we reach that point.

But I know I hold a corresponding set of keys for his lock, too.

“I was about to tell you that you’re stronger than you think, but those aren’t the right words.” He leans back, resting his head against a small rolled pillow on the tub’s edge, his eyes closed, face tipped up to the ceiling. “People say that all the time—you’re stronger than you think. What they mean is that you have to learn to suck it up. That’s not strength. That’s being groomed to accept suffering.”

His words are like a call to arms.

“You, Shannon, are more powerful than you think. Your mother just got a lesson in that. Don’t back down now. Don’t second-guess. Don’t waffle.”

My stomach growls.

“Mmmm. Waffles,” I say. The joke falls flat. I don’t know why I make it.

Yes, I do.

Because what Declan is saying is dangerous.

“I’m not threatened by your power,” he says softly.


“I’m attracted to it, in fact. You are never more alive than when you harness it.”

Oh, God.

“I can’t make you use it, or access it. Only you can, honey. But that no you just used yesterday—that big, fat screw you that you reached inside yourself to find—was mesmerizing in its beauty.”

“It—it was?”

He sits up so fast that a small wave crests over the side of the tub, carrying a shelf of white foam onto the floor, soaking the area rug. He’s kissing me, and I’m melting into him, our bodies wet and slick and floating and entwined, limbs ending and beginning in a Gordian knot that starts with my mother and ends with a clean, simple cut of the sword of our love.

We show each other our combined power, and I swear, in the distance, I hear the sound of metal against metal, the click of steel against unyielding tumblers as yet another key is tried, and yet another lock remains unopened.

Chapter Nine

I manage to find a decent outfit and shoes—if by “decent” you mean a Vera Wang dress and Louboutins—among the maze of clothing that the tailor delivered, though Declan’s clearly unhappy with my “limited” options.

“I’m sending a stylist up to work with you,” he says, calling Grace and muttering a laundry list of issues for her to tackle as he walks around our suite, freshly showered and shaved, his naked body on display for me. He’s so much easier on the eyes than the hand-picked interior-decorator-selected original art throughout the room.

I take the opportunity during his twenty-minute call to clean up and check my nine thousand text messages.

Lunch? Amanda’s text asks. Andrew says meet us at the private club on the roof.

Guilt twangs through me like an untuned guitar string. For the past year, Amanda’s been my maid of honor, my rock, my stable bestie who helped me through this farce of a wedding, and how do I thank her?

By ditching it all after she nearly drowned at the very wedding I escaped.

Where are you? I text back.

You don’t want to know, she replies instantly.


I’m naked in bed, she texts.

Oh. She’s right.

I really don’t want to know. We’re in new territory now, because she’s naked in bed with my almost brother-in-law, who has seen me naked.

And I’ve seen Amanda naked.

I look at naked Declan, who is the only person in this quad not to have completed a number of naked-viewing transactions.

Let’s keep it that way, shall we?

Lunch in half an hour? she answers.

K, I reply, just as Declan gets off the phone with Grace and starts dressing, morphing from my Declan to the world’s Declan.

You ever watch a man go from naked to fully dressed in a business suit? It’s performance art. Truly. Declan slides those muscled calves into his black boxer briefs, the soft cotton clinging to toned thighs covered in coiled hair, the color of his skin fading to a soft pale I can almost feel. He eschews a t-shirt under his tailored business shirt, buttoning up but leaving the cuffs alone, for those require his cuff links, which come much later in the process.

I take a seat on the small bench at the base of our California King bed and watch. Forget Cirque du Soleil downstairs.

This is the real show here in Vegas.

And it’s a command performance for one.

Socks—a funky pattern with accents of hot pink mixed with adobe, which Marcello swears is the latest fashion—then the sound, oh the sound of those strong, muscled legs swishing against cashmere woven and tailored for his body alone.

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)