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Shopping for a Billionaire's Wife (Shopping for a Billionaire #8) Page 83
Author: Julia Kent

“Jockey for Men? Coca-Cola? Pepsi? Nike?” She shakes her head at all of them.

“No! Fresh Balls.”

I snort.

“And Amy’s stuck at work and can’t make it, but she’ll try to get here tomorrow.”

“What? No. Really?”

Mom shrugs. “It’s some crisis with a client. She said she already saw you run away from one wedding, so she doesn’t need to see you do it out here, too.”

I glower at Mom.

“Where’s Jason?” Mom asks. I shrug. She wanders off in search of him.

“Let me see the ring!” Carol shouts, diving for my hand. “You know Jeffrey still has the original ones?”

“I do, Auntie Shannon.” He frowns. “Wait. That’s for you to say. I do.”

I offer up my hand for inspection. The simple platinum bands Declan bought make me smile, mine pushed up against his mother’s engagement ring. Catching my eye, Dec holds up his left hand, pointing to the ring for Carol’s edification.

“Nice,” she says with a nod.

“What am I supposed to do with these, then?” Jeffrey asks, pulling a long Star Wars lanyard from his front pocket, our Boston wedding ceremony rings dangling from the metal curl at the end. “Are they mine now?”

“No,” Carol says sharply.

Jeffrey ignores her. “Because I was watching that show, Pawn Wars, with Grandpa, and he said pawn shops are a great place to get money for expensive things people don’t want any more.”

“What’s Pawn Wars?” a deep voice asks, Terry appearing behind Carol, making her jump.

“A show about pawn shops! It’s really cool,” Jeffrey gushes. A perfect ten-year-old-boy answer. Not one to be distracted from an opportunity to make money, he pivots his attention away from a confused Terry and returns to me. “What are you going to do with these?” he asks as he hands me the original rings.

I take them gently from Jeffrey and slip them into my purse. “We’ll think of something,” I assure him.

“Ice cream?” Tyler asks, snuggling up to Carol’s hip.

A familiar tense look crosses her face. All single mothers on limited incomes wear this look with more frequency than they’d like. Expectations Management 101: how many times can she say “yes” to something the kids want that involves spending money? And how to prioritize on a limited budget?

Declan appears, leaning in to Carol and whispering in her ear. She jolts, reddens, and her eyes water. She gives Declan an incredulous look, her expression making her look so much like Mom when she was younger that I’m choked up.

“Seriously?” she asks him, her voice so quiet I almost don’t hear it.

He nods and gives her a small smile, a dawning in his eyes that I can’t pin down.

Carol grabs Declan in an enormous hug and I hear her say, “You’re sure?”

He nods against her shoulder.

What on earth did he say to her?

She reaches down to tousle Tyler’s dirty-blond hair and looks at Jeffrey. “Yes to ice cream.”

“Yay!” Tyler calls out. “Yes to ice cream.”

“Except here it’s called gelato,” I explain. Setting expectations with Tyler is critical.

He looks at me intently. “I want ice cream.”

“Gelato is ice cream,” I explain. “It’s ice cream with a different name.”

Declan tilts his head and starts to open his mouth to object. I know they’re not the same. He knows they’re not the same. All the adults know it, but to Tyler, the difference isn’t important.

Avoiding a meltdown is.

“Right,” Declan says with a slow sigh. “And gelato is even better than ice cream.”

“Better?” Tyler’s face lights up.

My turn to argue. “Actually, it’s not,” I murmur in Dec’s ear. “Too sweet. Not creamy enough. The mouthfeel is totally different and—”

He’s kissing me before I can continue with my analysis of sugary treats I shouldn’t shovel into my mouth anyway.

“EWWWWWWWWW!” Tyler and Jeffrey say in unison as they watch us.

“Yuck,” Jeffrey adds, turning away. “Can I get a double cone, Mom? I deserve one after seeing that.”

“Sure,” she says as Declan ends the kiss. They walk off, Carol practically skipping.

“What did you say to her?” I ask, breathless.

“Told her Anterdec’s covering everything. To charge whatever they want to the room.”

I’m agog. “It’s one thing to do that for my mom and dad, but...are you sure?”

“Dad says Anterdec’s turning a profit off our ‘manufactured fiasco’—his words, not mine.” Dec holds his hands up as if fending off a protest he expects from me. “Everything’s on the house for your family.”

“And besides,” he says, pausing. He’s struggling inside, and finally continues, “the look on her face. I couldn’t—I realized what was going on, and I wanted her to not worry. To treat Jeffrey and Tyler to whatever they want.”

Are his eyes...shining? Mine tingle with emotion, my nose filling, and just as I’m about to reply, Jed rushes over, says something in Declan’s ear, and he sprints away.

“Where are you going?” I shout.

Heads turn at the sound of my voice, but he doesn’t stop, so I follow Declan, running as best as I can in heels.

And there isn’t even a clown chasing me.

He slows just before the very same “High Limit” room my father asked me about the first day we were here, and as Declan parts a curtain, we walk past a table, to another curtain, where yet another baccarat table is placed. My dad is standing at the table, poker-faced, arms crossed over his chest. A bald, intimidating guy wearing an earbud stands behind him, grabbing Declan’s attention with a brow raise and the slightest hint of motion.

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)