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Shopping for a Billionaire's Wife (Shopping for a Billionaire #8) Page 57
Author: Julia Kent

“Because I like hot dogs.”


“I’m not justifying what I like to you, Declan. I don’t have to validate my choices.”

“And neither do I.” His voice feels like an icicle tracing my spine.

“Besides, they’re gourmet hot dogs.”

Declan rolls his eyes and does that thing with his breathing where he pretends he’s being polite and civil but he’s really filling the room with the hot cloud of contempt that he spawns by rubbing two sides of his big, fat ego together to generate a spark.

“No one is making you eat a hot dog,” I declare, trying to match his understated condescension. I just sound like a whiny twelve year old. Close enough.

“What’s going on?” He’s asking me, but this isn’t a normal interrogation. Some big stakes are on my answer, and I’m deeply uncomfortable with the path this conversation is taking.

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t be coy.”

“Then be direct!”

“I am.”

“Vegas is so fake,” I blurt out.

We’ve gone from “You look amazing” to “Don’t be coy” in under a minute.

“It’s aspirational. Quit being so cynical,” he scoffs.

“What do you mean, ‘aspirational’?” I know what the industry term means, but I want to hear Declan define this from his own mouth while I stand over here and do a slow burn.

“People come here because they want to think they can achieve this kind of luxury someday. The resorts convey an air of opulence, a potential that you, and you, and yes, you! can have this some day. As they walk through resort after resort, past rooms labeled “High Limit Only” and Armani displays with dresses that cost more than they make in a month, they start to feel surrounded by it. Embraced by it.”

“Like they’re back in the womb, only about to be born rich.”

“Yes!” His face relaxes, like he’s pleased I finally “get” it.

“That is deceptive.” I think about my grandma and Dad’s story.


“The vast majority of people who come here will never, ever be able to afford a five thousand dollar dress, or a Maserati, or buy a table at the private club behind those guarded doors, because throwing away ten grand on a table and drinks isn’t reality, Declan.”

“It’s the customer’s choice, Shannon. We’re not making them do anything they don’t want to do. We’re helping them to aspire.”

I snort. “You’re manipulating them.”

“Welcome to the entire field of marketing, Shannon,” he says slowly. “As our Director of Marketing for Anterdec, I should think you of all people would understand that.”

“Not my kind of marketing!” I’m appalled that he actually thinks this way. A dark snake of fear comes to life in my gut. “My kind of marketing informs. It appeals. When I do campaigns and customer service evaluations and social media pushes, I’m helping people to discover new products and experiences.”

“And so is Anterdec’s resort. And most of Vegas. The good resorts, at least.” I don’t ask him to define ‘good.’ I know how he defines it. More money = better.

“It’s not the same!”

“Marketing is about choices, Shannon. When done well, the customer walks away informed, happy, and energized.”

How in the hell did we go from I’m starving to this argument? Damn.

“They walk out of Vegas broke and hungover!”

“Because they got to choose!” he roars. “Why are you so judgmental?”

“Me!” I’m aghast. “I’m not judgmental!”

“You’re saying that the entire design of the Strip and luxury resorts like mine are nothing more than manipulative attempts to remove consumers from their money.”

I relax. He gets it. Thank goodness. We can put this conflict behind us. He sees reason.


“And in your mind, those consumers are too stupid to realize they’re being manipulated.”


“You think that this shouldn’t be there for them. That they are easily led and don’t know what’s good for them, and so the businesses that created these entertainment consortiums have done them wrong.”

“That’s not quite how I would say it, but—”

“Your world, Shannon, involves a mindset that worries me.”

Mic drop. Boom. He and Dad should start a tag team.


“You want to remove free will from people.”


“As consumers. You don’t want to give customers the choice.”

“The choice to get drunk and gamble away all their money and spend it on crap they can’t afford?”

“That’s up to them! Do they look like they’re suffering?”

I falter.

“I’ll answer that for you—no. They don’t. You’re surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people who have come to Vegas to have a fun time and who enjoy themselves because they made an open, free decision to be here and to spend their time and money this way.”

I’m speechless.

He tips his head and studies me. “I think I understand you better now.”

“What does that mean?”

“You won’t accept my professional shopper. You don’t want jewelry or a nice, new car or any of the other gifts I try to give you.” He shakes his head slightly, mouth tight with pensiveness, his hand running through his hair twice, settling at the base of his neck. “I shouldn’t really call them gifts. They’re just part of life. My life.”

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)