Authors: Julia Kent
Tags: #Contemporary Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #BBW Romance, #Humorous, #Romantic Comedy, #Contemporary, #Fiction, #romance, #General, #New Adult & College, #new adult, #Genre Fiction, #Literature & Fiction
Christmas Shopping for a Billionaire
Author’s note: this story can be read as a standalone, but is best read within the context of my
Shopping for a Billionaire
series. This takes place about six months after
Shopping for a Billionaire 4
Copyright © 2014 by Julia Kent
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.
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The call today from my old boss, Greg, two days before Christmas at 2:12 p.m. should have tipped me off. I
have let it go to voicemail. I
have ignored it and not stopped decorating the Christmas tree in my boyfriend’s apartment. The tree that Declan had ordered from some place in Nova Scotia where all trees look like something out a movie set and the super-nice Canadians hire Tibetan refugee monks to rub the trunks down with virgin coconut oil and chant “Om Mani Padme Hun” for universal nirvana.
That is, before they chop the tree down to ship it by helicopter to a waterfront high rise on the Long Wharf in Boston, where it will look pretty for two weeks and then get the chipper treatment at a recycling center. That’s a form of reincarnation, right?
ignore Greg’s call even though I might be a little intoxicated by the sight of my man wearing a Santa hat, tight jeans, and a snug green cashmere sweater that makes me want him to hurry up my chimney tonight.
(C’mon. You knew the pun was coming).
“Hey, Greg. What’s up?” I answer.
Declan is hanging one of the new ornaments I bought him, a candy cane made from glued cloves. Mom’s friend holds a Sustainable Free Trade Christmas Fair every year, and I’d been told a young African girl made the clove ornament to raise money to buy a three legged-goat for milk to feed her family, or something like that.
The details are fuzzy because I couldn’t listen through my sobs as I handed fistfuls of money to Mom, who just picked out a few items and patted me on the back, mumbling something about how I is just like my father. He had been banned from the fair two years ago when he bought all five hundred handmade Christmas cards from the Ivory Coast refugee who was promoting slave-free chocolate, sobbing with guilt and apologizing profusely for his KitKat addiction.
“Did Carol call you?” My old boss sounds frantic. Greg isn’t the type to descend into hysteria. A chill runs up my spine, and it isn’t from the nine inches of snow that blanketed Boston yesterday. I know that tone of voice.
is the tone that got my hand shoved down a toilet in the men’s room of a fast food restaurant when I worked for him as a mystery shopper, evaluating customer service at stores and companies.
The tone that gave me a brand-new car that looked like a Goliath took a steaming dump on top of it when we were doing branded advertising for a website.
The tone that made me listen to podiatrists wax rhapsodic about toe fungus as they eyed my feet like I was starring in a fetish story from one of my dad’s old
magazines that he kept stored in his backyard Man Cave.
is the tone of desperation.
“No. Carol did not.”
Declan looks at me, tilting his head to the left and making a low voice in the back of his throat that indicates displeasure. While I work for Declan’s company now, I fill in for the occasional mystery shop at my old job. My oldest sister, Carol, has my old job now and sometimes does the
professional maneuver where she calls and begs and whines and pleads and threatens to tell my boyfriend all about that time I bought a chest enhancer and got my budding nipple caught in the springs, in order to get me to take on a shop.
Yeah. Professional like that. Carol would make a great women’s prison kitchen chef.
So Greg is a step above. “Carol had a mystery shopper no-show on her, and she can’t come in because of your nephews. Something about needing a babysitter—”
“We can go over and watch Jeffrey and Tyler!” I say in an overeager voice as Declan continues his vocal imitation of Jamie Fraser from the
series, making more guttural sounds than a female sea lion with strep throat.
Of course, I offer to babysit. Because the alternative is…
“That doesn’t work. Something about one of the kids having the bubonic plague,” he adds. Carol can get a wee dramatic, but I vaguely remember Mom telling me one of the kids had something that generated more snot than a bunch of postmenopausal women watching
“Did you try Josh?” Josh is the company technogeek, and he almost never gets pulled into mystery shopping. Right now, though, I’ll throw him under the bus if it means staying here with Declan for the rest of the day, my eyes memorizing the tight little ripples of muscle between his lower ribs as he stretches up on tiptoes to hang an ornament. His sweater pulls up enough to make his torso look like it was finely carved from tanned alabaster.
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
A humping in the bedroom so fine I forgot my name.
(So what if it doesn’t rhyme. Just go with it).
“We need a female,” Greg stresses. I look down at my overflowing bosom, tightly encased in a green wrap shirt that makes my cleavage pour out like a split muffin top. Damn. For once, having breasts
me for a job.
“He looks really good in drag,” I tell Greg.
Declan halts in mid-stretch and plants his feet firmly on the floor, turning to me. He points to himself and shakes his head slowly, eyes steely green.
, I mouth.
“Good,” Declan says with his hands on his hips, one knee bent, like a man in pose to argue, the male equivalent of Talk to the Hand.
that stuff?” Greg asks, incredulous.
“No,” I confess. “I just don’t want to do whatever it is
want me to do.”
“We need a sexy female elf.”
“A sexy female
?” Did I hear him wrong?
Declan appears instantly at my side, suddenly
“You would be a very good sexy female elf,” Greg and Declan simulcast in my ears in two completely different tones of voice. Both, though, carry the tiniest hint of desperation.
“Who’s there?’ Greg asks. His words are a bit muffled, as if floating through cotton.
“Why are you talking so weird?” The cinnamon-scented Christmas candles on Declan’s sleek marble mantel send a glow high into his arched ceiling. The city is spread out before us on one side of the high-windowed penthouse, the ocean on the other side. Panoramic views are fine and all, but the best scenery is two inches away, his lips closing in on my neck.
“It’s the beard,” Greg says, jolting me out of my turning into a maid a-milking, my hand reaching for Declan in a place that makes him inhale sharply, then smile against my ear.
“Beard?” I ask.
I twist my way out of Declan’s arms and make a pouty face. He joins me, looking disturbingly like my cat, Chuckles. I didn’t know Declan had a Grumpy Cat face. You date a man for eight months and then one day you discover he looks like a cat doing a Paul Ryan imitation. Thank God that’s not his O face.
I shudder and Declan mistakes that for my being cold, wrapping his arms around me.
“I’m Santa,” Greg explains. “We’re evaluating the customer service quality of the Children’s Christmas Village set-up at the mall. Our Santa no-showed and I had to jump in.”
“You’ve got the body for it.” Greg doesn’t just have a bowl full of jelly—he’s the entire Smucker’s plant.
“Hey!” He sounds genuinely offended.
“You can talk about how I can be a
but I can’t mention your beer gut?”
“It’s not a beer gut!”
He lets out a long sigh of resignation. “
better.” Because it’s true.
“You want me to come in and put on a sexy costume to play the female equivalent of Buddy the Elf at the mall two days before Christmas because no one else will do it?”
?” Greg’s breath is coming in huffs of nervousness.
Grumpy Declan sees me wavering and finishes my hot toddy for me, returning to the tree to decorate.
“Why should I do it?” I challenge.
“It pays $30 an hour and you get a free picture with Santa.”
“I make more than that working for Anterdec now, and I am not sitting on your lap.”
“I didn’t ask you to! I’m only here for a little while longer, and then the new Santa comes on board. You can sit on
lap.” He pauses. “Wait. You make more than $30 an hour now?” He seems more scandalized by
than by the idea of having me in his lap.
“You can sit on my lap right now, for free,” Declan murmurs, nibbling on my ear.
“He’s paying $30 an hour.” I point to the phone.
“You want me to pay you to sit on my lap?” Pulling me into it, he shifts in just the right way. I groan, inhaling cinnamon and sex, exhaling weakness and loyalty.
“Shannon, please? Please?” Greg is begging. “Carol said she might be able to come at five o’clock and take over for you, but I’m really stuck here. All these kids are lined up, their hopeful little faces cheering for Santa, and they want to know where the elf is.”
“Awwww.” Declan’s hot tongue in my mouth makes it hard to answer.
“And the dads are asking, too.”
I push Declan away and eye him closely. He’ll make one hot dad someday. I imagine a little girl in his arms, Declan carrying her to the Christmas Village for a visit with Santa, me waddling behind pregnant with our first boy. It’s a pleasant vision, and one that Declan seems to share, if I’m reading the look in his eyes right.
Christmas at the mall is such a cornerstone of my childhood that I begin to weaken. All those kids. All those parents. And if I don’t go in…
“Bottom line is that there’s suspicion that one of the photographers is stealing cash payments here, and some of the Santas have been coming in drunk, so in the interest of making the holiday a joyful experience for every single kid—kids like Jeffrey and Tyler—if you could get your butt down here and help your old boss, I’d really appreciate it.” Greg’s voice shifts from pleading to commanding, and the combination means—
A long sigh escapes from me, making Declan freeze, his tongue perfectly centered now on that soft spot of skin beneath my earlobe, the gateway to all things warm, wet, and naughty.
“Where are you?” I ask Greg.
Declan’s turn to groan, and
not in the good way.
Greg names a mall about twenty minutes away.
“I’m on my way.”
I hang up to find that I am suddenly on my boyfriend’s Very Naughty List. I deserve a spanking, but I’m about to get a tongue lashing instead, and not the kind that makes me rip the sheets off the bed.
I give him
best Grumpy Cat look.
“You’re leaving? You’re seriously going to push aside this carefully planned day so you can go dress up in a sexy elf costume…”
His voice shifts from self-righteous anger to aroused intrigue, the morph so gradual yet distinct. His green eyes match his sweater, dark hair recently clipped in a style that makes his face even more masculine, the cut jawline lickable. Long eyelashes frame steady, sharp eyes that comb over my body with more suggestions than a waiter trying to upsell you on the chef’s special.
Meeting the son of Boston’s most famous billionaire while conducting a mystery shop eight months ago had been the best stroke of luck I’d had since counting the right number of M&M candies in the contest jar at Dad’s favorite auto parts store when I was nine and bringing them home, but this was better.
Because I can eat
prize without getting a stomach ache.
Wait. That doesn’t sound right…
“Yes.” I shrug helplessly. “He wouldn’t call if he weren’t desperate.”
Declan’s mind is a million miles away, his eyes smoking hot and aimed right at me. And then I realize he’s not a million miles away. He’s five miles away, at the mall, listening to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” with visions of something way dirtier than sugar plums dancing in his head.