Authors: Julia Kent
HOPPING FOR A
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I’m thrilled to be the maid of honor in my friend’s wedding, but the best man, Andrew McCormick, is a chauvinistic pig with a God complex.
And I can’t stop kissing him in closets.
He’s the brother of the groom and the CEO of my biggest mystery shopping account, but suddenly he’s refusing to be in the wedding. He won’t talk about it. Won’t see reason.
He’s such a man.
And he still won’t stop kissing me in random closets.
I’m a fixer. That’s what I do. I can fix anything if given the chance. But when the game is fixed there’s only so much I can do.
The ball’s in his court now.
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Shopping for a CEO
is the 7th book in the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Shopping series. When CEO Andrew McCormick and mystery shopper Amanda Warrick find themselves in the unlikely position as maid of honor and best man in the Boston society wedding of the year, an undeniable attraction and dual stubborn streaks add fuel to the fire in this romantic comedy from Julia Kent.
© 2015 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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“This one has it all: hilarious laughs, a sexy (almost) billionaire and a hint of tears. The best of the series!”
New York Times
bestselling romantic comedy author
“Her stories are sensual, incredible, and outright hilarious—the PERFECT combination.”
New York Times
bestselling author of the
Anything He Wants
“If you like ... romances … with lots of humor, this is the series for you!”
New York Times
bestselling romantic comedy author
“Julia Kent’s romantic comedies are so funny you’ll snort soda out your nose, so emotionally honest you’ll get misty eyed, and so charming you’ll be back for more. Loved the whole series!”
—Cheri Allan, author of the
Betting on Romance
“This book is not to be missed!!!”
“Wow Julia has done it again!! This book had me on edge with the suspense and overwhelmed with laughter at times! I even cried a little. I absolutely love this series!!! I can’t wait to see what’s to come next!!! This is a must read!”
“Every chapter made my heart beat faster in anticipation. Julia Kent once again pulls at our emotions and allows us to fall in love with the characters all over again.… Very well worth my heart palpitations.”
“I just can’t imagine how you come up with this stuff, but am so glad you do!”
“I finally had to write to you and tell you that you are simply one of the most amazing authors. Your humor is perfect. I really do bust out laughing out loud. My family thinks that I am crazy when I do it but I can count on a good read from you especially when it has been a rough day. There hasn’t been a single thing that you have written that I haven’t fallen in love with the characters. They become real and some of your lines have become a part of our family language. Thank you for sharing your amazing gift.”
“Having another fantastic evening as I just finished your latest book and now the fam can go to sleep since the laughing/screaming out loud has stopped... Stomach muscles are sore. Better than sit-ups! :-)”
To my beta reader friends, I give you my deepest thanks.
To my awesome husband, I give you my heart and the rest of my life.
To my dear friend Gretchen Galway, I give you credit for Josh’s best line in the childbirth class. ;)
And most of all, to my readers, I thank you from the core of my soul. You have no idea how important you are to me.
HOPPING FOR A
“And when I took little Maisy to the veterinarian for the first time to have her anal glands expressed, the bill nearly made
anal glands explode!” my date says with a chuckle, reaching for his pint of Guinness. He finishes the last inch or so of the glass, lets out an enormous belch, then leans in, elbows on the table, cradling his jaw in his hands like he has a massive secret to share.
. As in, away.
“That,” he says, reaching for my hand and ensconcing it between both of his, “is when I turned to good old YouTube and decided to DIY.”
“DIY?” This guy has more jargon than a sociology grad student.
“I taught myself how to express her anal glands,” he crows proudly. “Just did it this morning.”
I look down at our hands.
I can live without one, right?
“It takes more vigor than you’d imagine,” he murmurs.
That is the worst come on line
“Another beer?” the waitress asks, interrupting. She is my new best friend.
I nod vigorously and tug my hand away from his, praying for divine intervention. Or an electric knife to saw off my hand. A beer will have to do. If I get tipsy enough on this date, maybe I’ll forget that my hands just rubbed up against—
Hold on there. Pause.
You heard me right. I’m on a date. Except I’m
on a date. I’m technically working right now. On this date. I’m dating him
Wait—don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not...well, it’s not
kind of working date. I’m not making three hundred bucks a night to lick his toes or whip him or be a professional escort or anything like that.
(But that’s starting to look better and better....)
All I get is my regular paycheck, my meal, and an eighteen dollar mystery shopper’s fee for having Mr. Anal Gland Hands sit across the table from me and talk about Maisy the Wonder Schnauzer like she’s his girlfriend and I’ll be the third in their little poly human-human-dog threesome.
That’s right. I’m getting
to do this.
My boss, Greg, got a new account for online dating service evaluations for his company, Consolidated Evalu-Shop, and I’m currently on the prototype date. I have to create the series of questions that future mystery shoppers will answer when they go through all these customer service shops to determine whether the dating service works as the owners expect, and to help improve customer service, client retention, and overall efficiency.
I’m the sacrificial virgin.
Okay, not technically a virgin, but...you know what I mean.
“DoggieDate: The place where dogs find love” is an online dating service for dog lovers.
Snort. Go ahead. Say it.
The motto needs some work.
I’m mystery shopping DoggieDate’s entire customer service and online algorithm matching system. This is my first date. According to their system, Amanda Warrick, age twenty-seven and
pounds, with a college degree, an interest in chihuahuas and labradoodles, the owner of Spritzy the teacup chihuahua, and a lover of seafood is an eight-three percent match with....
Mr. Anal Gland Hands, forty-nine, thrice-divorced, a triathletic vegan, an Internet Marketer, owner of Maisy the schnauzer and...
“You know, Amanda,” he says, grabbing my hands again. Ron. His real name is Ron. He has a combover like Donald Trump and arms like cords of steel, tanned deep and hairless. “If you’re anything like me, you’re sick of this dating game. How about we strip off all the bullshit layers and just get right to the heart of seeing if we’re compatible?”
This isn’t the first time I’ve done online dating. It’s just the first time I’ve done it professionally. I’m not invested in the outcome here. I’m just doing my job.
I know what Ron’s about to say, so pull up a chair. This’ll be a doozy.
“So tell me all your secret sexual fantasies.”
I totally called it.
“All of them?” I ask, leaning forward. “Because I’m not sure we have enough time for that.”
His eyes light up. They’re the color of the bay after a big storm, the kind of brownish grey that only comes from stirring up a lot of crap.
I sniff the air. You smell that? It’s the scent of desperation.
Or Maisy’s anal glands.
It’s hard to tell the difference.
I need to focus on work, though. This isn’t a real date. If it were, I’d trigger a rescue text from my best friend Shannon and claim she’s in the ER and take my escape. Given how often Shannon really
end up in the emergency room, I’d have about a one in ten chance of not lying.
“Tell me all about Maisy!” I say, suddenly chirpy.
Poor Ron recoils. “She has nothing to do with my sexual fantasies!”
I didn’t imply as much, but the fact that he’s so quick to say that freaks me out.
“No, no, of course not,” I say in a soothing voice. The waitress brings my beer and I drink half of it in one long ribbon of alcoholic perfection.
Ron unclenches. He has super-short hair (except for the Trump combover right along the bangs) and is clean shaven. Those grey-brown eyes are framed by nothing but loose eyelid skin.
And then it hits me.
He has no eyelashes. No eyebrows, either. That’s why he looks like he’s so interested in everything I say.
“I just meant,” I continue, “that I love my little Spritzy. That’s why I joined DoggieDate. I’m wondering what Maisy’s like.”
Ron relaxes. “Actually,” he says with a conspirator’s grin, “she’s only half mine.”
Half? How do you have half a dog? Is Maisy a made-up dog? Does Ron use a fake dog to troll for women?
Or worse, maybe there really is
a dog somewhere. In a freezer. Like Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims.
“My ex-wife and I share custody.”
“Ohhhhh,” I say slowly, tipping back the second half of my beer. The waitress notices and before I’ve put the bottle down she catches my eye.
The Sisterhood Of The First Date Code is enacted. Third beer on the way. Good thing I’m taking a cab home. On my boss’s dime, no less. There is no way I’m going through twenty dates like this without beer and a cab.
That’s right. Twenty. I have to date
dog lovers, male and female, in an effort to create as thorough a survey as possible for the hundreds of mystery shoppers nationwide who will evaluate DoggieDate.
Anal glands be damned.
“How do you share custody of a dog?” I ask, intrigued. My third beer appears and I stifle a belch. Only men can burp on dates.
Women have to slowly leak out their CO2, like a deflating float at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. God forbid you let one rip.
“She gets Maisy every other week. We trade off holidays. We each get her on our birthdays.”
“Who pays doggie support?” I joke. “Do you meet in a McDonald’s parking lot to hand her off in neutral territory?”
“No. Whole Foods. And I make more, so I give Alicia eight-two dollars a week to help cover Maisy’s Reiki treatments.”
“Okay, great,” I mumble, nodding vigorously.
is code for
You’re batshit crazy.
It then occurs to me: this is the entire point of these mystery shops. DoggieDate is designed for dog freaks.
If Ron is the norm, then I am, technically, the freak here.
I’m borrowing my mom’s teacup chihuahua, Spritzy, for the dates where the men and women want to have our dogs meet. Ron didn’t want that. He said the humans needed to make sure we were compatible before taking the very serious step of letting the dogs meet.
Dog Reiki? The man pays eight-two dollars a week for dog Reiki but he sticks his hands all over his dog’s brown starfish to save money?