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Shopping for a Billionaire's Wife (Shopping for a Billionaire #8) Page 36
Author: Julia Kent

He doesn’t smile.

“Amanda and I spent about two hours just hanging out over there, and the place was so relaxing and inviting that I bought lunch in the sushi bar and grabbed another coffee on the way back here.” I take my Grind It Fresh! coffee back from him, and hold it up as an example. The logo is a picture of a coffee bean being loaded into a wood chipper, with a starburst coming out of the end.

When our eyes meet, it’s like I kicked him in the gut. He’s gone green, and—is his upper lip trembling?

“What’s wrong?” I cry out in alarm. “Are you sick?”

“Maybe,” he whimpers, running his fingers through his hair, eyes wild and pained. He has his typical afternoon stubble, but he runs his hand through his hair, peaks of dark standing up straight. The groomed brow hunches down over troubled eyes and a clamminess inhabits his hand as I hold it.

“What did I say? What did I do?” I’m thrown into overdrive at this sudden change in Declan.

“Shannon.” My name sounds like the last gasp from a dying man. “Shannon, are you mystery shopping the resort next door?”

I freeze.

“What?” Peals of laughter pour out of me, more from relief than humor. “What? No. No, no, of course not. I would never take an assignment from Greg on our honeymoon! I don’t even work for him any more!” That’s all this is? Whew.

“Not officially, no. But you just read off a laundry list of how my carefully-designed resort doesn’t measure up to the place next door.” His breathing is erratic and his voice is choked, like he’s trying not to cry.

There is genuine hurt in his voice.

This is a side of Declan I’ve never seen.

“That’s not what I—I never meant to compare in a—it’s just that the coffee at Grind It Fresh! is so good over there!”

He closes his eyes and groans, like I sucker-punched him in the throat.

Sitting at the end of the bed, Declan drops his head into his hands and takes deep breaths. Do I need to get him a paper bag? Is he hyperventilating? I drop to my knees in front of him and put my hands on his thighs.

“Your coffee here at Litraeon is good. Really. It’s great.”

“Stop lying to me.”

“No, I’m—I’m not lying.”

I’m totally lying.

“You can’t get the coffee just right every time. Everyone has moments where they don’t perform. It’s okay. It happens,” I soothe.

“You’re acting like my resort’s failure to live up to next door is akin to erectile dysfunction.”

“I am not!”

I totally am, though. Oops.

But a great cup of coffee is like great sex. Once you’ve had it, going back to mediocre feels like a punishment.

And it goes down smooth.

“Promise me one thing,” he says, grasping my hands. Our eyes meet.

Are those tears in his eyes? Actual tears? Is Declan crying because I like the resort next door better than the Anterdec property? I can’t really confess that right now, but....

“Anything,” I swear.

“Don’t go next door again.”

My heart seizes. I can’t help but look at the cup of coffee. The thought of no more Grind It Fresh! makes me reel.

Noooooooo. Anything but that.

When I look at him, though, I realize I have no choice. I have to be faithful. I can’t stray.

Plastering on a fake smile, I nod. “Of course I won’t.”

“We can make this place better!” he insists, standing up so fast I fall backwards on my butt. Thank God I’m not clutching my coffee, though, because it would have spilled.

Eyes lingering over the white cup with the beautiful black logo, I realize this is it. My final latte from Grind It Fresh! I won’t get another chance like this.

I have to make it last.

A lifetime. This latte is my Bridges of Madison County. I’m Meryl Streep and those perfect shots of espresso are Clint Eastwood, never to be seen again after experiencing the throes of ecstasy. Hold on, though. Clint Eastwood? Nooooo. Too old.

Er, Scott Eastwood? Mmmmm, Scott Eastwood in the shower scene in The Longest Ride.

Hey. Wait a minute. Someone always dies in a Nicholas Sparks story. I’d better stop there. Then again, if I have to give up Grind It Fresh! forever, it’s a kind of death.

The death of caffeine love.

Declan is the Nicholas Sparks of coffee.

“I’ll find out who their supplier is and we’ll start buying their coffee. And I can have our human resources recruiters snipe their baristas!” The green gill look is gone, replaced by a man with a mission.

A tendril of hope springs up from the dark, scorched earth of my coffee-loving soul.

“You will?” I peep.

“Yes. Anything for you, Shannon.”

Anything but letting me walk five hundred feet to buy a twelve-dollar coffee nirvana from the competition, that is.

He smacks his palms on his upper thighs. “There. That’s settled. Litraeon will improve. In fact, I am going to give you a new project at Anterdec.”

“What’s that?”

“Mystery shopping this property. Not you, of course. But let’s get a team going. Hire Greg or that competitor, you know. What’s their name?”

“Fokused Shoprite. ”

“Right. Fokused Shoprite.”

“Don’t you dare hire Foked!” I say sharply.

He looks stunned. “What? Did you just say—what?”

I giggle. Can’t help it. Our stupid nickname for our nemesis is about as mature as a twelve-year-old boy, but whatever.

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)