Read Shopping for a CEO's Fiancee Online

Authors: Julia Kent

Tags: #General Humor, #Coming of Age, #Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Fiction, #Romance, #Humor & Satire, #Humor, #Humorous, #Romantic Comedy, #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #General, #Humor & Entertainment, #Contemporary, #BBW Romance, #New Adult & College, #Contemporary Women

Shopping for a CEO's Fiancee (5 page)

BOOK: Shopping for a CEO's Fiancee
3.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

She gives me a weak smile. “Ha ha. We have no memory. How do we manage this?”

“One shower at a time.”

Unexpectedly, she reaches down to her left forearm with her right hand and
riiiiiiip
!

“What are you doing?”

In one smooth move, she grimaces and tears the worn bandage off her left forearm, revealing a network of animal claw scratches. Amanda does the same with her right forearm, leaving me stunned.

“I’m ripping off the Band-aid,” she says, her voice filled with pain.

“You still need to see a doctor.”

“No. I need a shower, a gallon of ibuprofen, more coffee, and you.”

“Me?”

“You.”

We stand and I pull her into my arms, her naked body soft and sticky against my skin and open robe.

“If I have to be married to anyone, I hope it’s you,” I whisper, before kissing her softly. My blood pounds against my skin, my breathing slow, as the scent of her fills me. Her shoulder is so soft against my chin. She relaxes against me, so delicate, yet strong. Less than a week ago, I watched her nearly drown, a part of me dying as seconds ticked by underwater and I couldn’t free her fast enough. Sheer determination got her to the surface in time.

Overriding instinct takes a terrible toll on the body.

And it’s even worse on the heart.

“Considering the options, I’m not sure whether to be flattered or to hit you.”

“Trust me. It’s a compliment. Besides, I’m not sure I can handle any more pain right now.”

Steam surrounds us, making my lungs fill slowly. The warmth helps, but being alone, upright, with her in my arms is the best medicine right now. So much remains unspoken between us. The vocabulary just isn’t there.

I wonder if that’s the whole point of committing to one person: you have the rest of your lives to figure out how to say what you feel. You build a language for two. Fluency isn’t optional.

While the rest of the world ticks on, and my workload piles up, I can ignore my mistakes and the puzzling circumstances of our possible marriage if I just kiss her again.

So I do.

And in that kiss, the first dangerous thought of the day slams through me.

Would it be so bad if I
am
her husband after all?

Chapter Four

“This really is the best coffee I’ve ever had,” Amanda says, with a sigh that women usually reserve for guys like me.

“Best in Vegas!” Declan crows. He’s arrogant enough as it is, but now all I’m going to hear is nonstop chatter about his superlative coffee empire.

I wonder if Dad was like this, circa 1981.

“Litraeon has great coffee,” I argue.

Shannon, Declan and Amanda all snicker.

“Once we’re up and running, we can work on getting Grind It Fresh! in Anterdec properties,” Dec says, suddenly serious. “It’ll be win-win.”

Business talk. I might be married to one of three different people and all Declan can talk about is his damn coffee chain.

“We have bigger fish to fry.”

“We have to unwind last night,” Amanda explains, looking at Shannon. “I texted Josh and Geordi. They’re on their way.” She glances at me. “I hope you don’t mind.”

“Mind? I texted them, too. We need to get to the bottom of this ASAP. If we keep this quiet, then we can figure this out with a minimal amount of spillage.”

“Spillage?”

“Unnecessary word getting out.”

“I’m here to help!” Shannon’s mom appears with her dad, Jason.

Great. So much for spillage. Marie is the equivalent of a tractor-trailer accident involving a honey truck crashing into a hot-fudge-filled semi.

“You bought my daughter a fabulous wedding present, because the coffee here is orgasmic!” Marie says to Declan. She and Jason are carrying Grind It Fresh! to-go cups.

“Litraeon coffee is just fine.”

Everyone ignores me.

“You two were hilarious last night. I had no idea you had such a wild side, Andrew!” Marie plucks a pink macaron from a tray filled with them as Jason settles into a seat next to her, giving me an evaluative look.

“What does that mean?” I ask slowly.

“You did a fantastic job emceeing the stripper finals at the adult products trade show!”

Declan grins and gives me a look.

“I
what
?”

“Here. We caught part of it on video.”

Video? “How did you get video? Amanda and I checked our phones and we have nothing. No pictures, no videos, no evidence of anything from last night.”

Marie shrugs. “You were too busy.” She slides her phone over to me.

I’m shirtless and oiled up, hair soaked with sweat, and I have a Sharpie marker in my hand.

“Are you the one who wrote on Chuckles?” Amanda gasps. “He’s never going to forgive you.”

“A cat with a grudge is the least of my worries,” I whisper.

“That’s what you think,” she says cryptically.

“Let me see that!” Declan says, trying to snatch the phone out of my hands. He may have the advantage of surprise, but my will is stronger. And I’m in better shape, so I leap up and vault away.

He doesn’t chase.

“No.” I cover the screen with my hand and watch.

Apparently, last night, I didn’t just emcee a men’s stripper final competition.

I decided to
join
it.

“Can I watch?” Amanda asks, her head peeking over my shoulder. I relent and tilt the screen.

Slightly.

“Why can she watch but not me?” Declan protests.

“Because I have a vested interest in Andrew’s naked body.”

Dec and I just stare at Amanda.

“Point taken,” he says, backing away slowly.

Amanda takes the phone from me, mesmerized by the scene unfolding on the screen.

As my own very drunk, increasingly naked form gyrates on the video, I can only watch
her
.

My humiliation unfolds before us, second by second, but a parallel experience is taking place inside me. Her mouth curls up on one side, her smile coy and suppressed. She’s as enchanting as she was more than two years ago, that day she stormed into my office to demand I help her reunite Declan and Shannon.

A man could do worse than being married to her.

“WHAT THE HELL IS THAT, ANDREW?” Amanda screams, flinging the phone at me.

It clatters to the floor and I look, dumbstruck.

Because I am kissing Jessica Coffin on the phone screen.

Declan bends down, retrieves the phone, and rewinds by a few seconds. He watches.

“Whoa.”

“Jessica Coffin is here?” Shannon gasps, turning to Marie with a glare.

Marie’s hands go up. “Don’t blame me! I swear I didn’t invite her!”

“Then what’s she doing here?’ Shannon whines.

“Who cares why she’s here?” Amanda hisses, looking at me the entire time. “I want to know why my husband is kissing Jessica Coffin on video in front of a bunch of naked male strippers.”

“They’re not naked,” I argue. I let the “my husband” comment go unchallenged. The sound of it makes me grin.

“No, but you are, bro,” Declan adds helpfully, handing me the phone.

I close my eyes. I can’t look. I just can’t—

Dec lets out a low whistle. “Turnabout’s fair play, huh?” he says to Amanda. I open my eyes to see him wink.

“WHAT THE HELL IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?” Amanda yells at him.

Declan arches one eyebrow, hits rewind, and hands her the phone.

I watch as my maybe-wife kisses...

Jessica Coffin.

“EWWWWWWWW,” Shannon and Amanda squeal.

“I thought you were only pretend gay,” Marie says, clearly confused. “Mystery shop gay. You said—”

“That’s kind of hot,” Dec mutters.

“Oh, God,” Amanda moans. “I would never,
ever
, kiss Jessica Coffin!” 

“I think you owe me an apology,” I inform Amanda.

“For what?”

“For being outraged that I kissed someone else.”

“But you did!”

“So did you!” I note.

“We both cheated.”

“Real cheating, too. Not just coffee cheating,” Shannon adds, giving Declan the side-eye.

“That’s not helping,” Amanda snaps. She reaches up to her lips. “I kissed Jessica Coffin!”

“Is that some tongue I see in there?” Marie asks, pulling a pair of reading glasses out of her purse and peering at the phone. She pauses the video, reaches into her purse, and adds a second set of glasses on top of the first.

 We have
lots
of help, don’t we?

“Mom!”

“Amanda got to first base with Jessica,” Marie says in a mournful tone. “Maybe even second base. What’s your hand doing there?” she asks, pointing to the screen. 

“Wait a minute,” Shannon says, taking the phone from her mother and making the picture bigger. “Hold on. That’s not Jessica Coffin.”

“It looks just like her,” Marie protests.

“But look. She has huge feet. And she’s taller than Andrew.”

I’m 6’ 3.”

“Even in heels, Jessica isn’t taller than me,” I note.

“And does Jessica have a shoulder tattoo?” Shannon asks, pointing.

“No,” I respond quickly.

Amanda frowns. “You know an awful lot about Jessica Coffin’s body.”

Declan shifts uncomfortably.

I give him a look that says,
Don’t say a word
.

My oldest brother, Terry appears. We might as well recreate the reception at this point. Jason stands and moves another table over to our crowd and I notice the big, white to-go cup in Terry’s hand.

Grind It Fresh!

Traitor.

“Amazing coffee, Dec! You’ve got a winner on your hands.” Coming from Terry’s deep voice, it sounds like an announcer at a sporting event.

He turns to me and says, “You were hilarious last night, Andrew. How late did you party with the drag queens?” Terry’s wearing a tie-dye shirt, shorts, and Birkenstocks. It’s like he’s trying to piss off Dad just by
being
.

“Drag queens? I kissed a drag queen?”

“You kissed about eight of them.”

“Maybe that explains your orange face?” Shannon asks. “Makeup?”

“No, we know the source of the orange,” Amanda mutters, then whispers in Shannon’s ear.

Shannon reels back. “Not drag queen makeup. Got it.” She stares intently at my mouth, then says to Amanda, “But wouldn’t it hurt, putting them inside you?”

Amanda pales.

“This video has gone viral by now, right?”

“Not this exact video, but—”

My phone buzzes.

It’s Dad.

“Oh, hell.” I ignore it.

“He’ll just have security track you down,” Declan chides.

I go cold.

“So what?” I jut my chin up in defiance. I am five years old. Damn it. Dec makes me feel like the helpless little brother, mercilessly under his thumb.

You cage someone too many times and they become feral in anticipation of being caged again.

Declan scoffs. “Don’t try that
so what
crap on me. You know damn well you care about Dad’s opinion. A little too much, Mr. CEO.”

“Is that what this is about? You’re jealous?” I snap.

“Jealous? Of you? Jealous of a guy who can’t break away from the one and only world he knows? Jealous of a guy who lives in fear of—”

“Of what?”

“Of everything.”

He’s such an asshole most of the time, but he’s also my best friend.

Which is the definition of
brother
for most guys.

“You are out of your mind! I’m not afraid of anything!”

Amanda and Shannon clear their throats simultaneously.

Feral, remember?

“Why would you be afraid of anything other than losing out on this fabulous time?” Terry asks, his voice in falsetto, waving my phone around, making Marie, Shannon, and Amanda giggle. I know what he’s doing. Dec knows what he’s doing. This is what Terry does.

Terry hates conflict.

Terry makes silly jokes.

“I remember seeing you at the gift table with Amanda, and you grabbed a bottle of homeopathic wine that was just sitting there,” Terry says, eyes lit up with amusement. He looks so much like our mother for a moment that I have to look away.

Shannon’s oldest sister, Carol, appears, smiling at Marie, carrying a coffee from—oh, hell, they’re all just drinking coffees from Dec and Shannon’s new chain.

Grind it in, why don’t you.

Grind it nice and fresh.

“Where are Jeffrey and Tyler?” Marie asks. Carol’s sons are ten and seven, I think. Not sure. Something like that. I’m not their uncle, and all kids look a lot alike to me. I assume that changes when you have your own. It’s like buying a new car. You don’t really notice all the identical makes and models until you have one you call
mine

And one you have to maintain to make it function properly.

Carol jerks her head toward the pastry case. “Deciding which sweets to get for the flight home.” They share a tired smile.

“The wine. We asked Marie for permission!” Amanda interjects, looking at Shannon’s mom. “You told us we could take the wine!”

“So you’re the one who grabbed the bottle,” Declan says.

“We’re not pointing fingers.” I’m defensive, suddenly, and want to protect Amanda. She reaches for my hand and squeezes it.

“Just locking down details,” Dec replies, eyes narrowing as he thinks. “We had a few people give us bottles of wine as wedding gifts.”

“Who?”

“Terry.”

“I had mine sent to your wine cellar back in Boston,” he clarifies.

“Okay,” Dec says. “I think Jed gave us one.”

“That was Champagne, and we drank it as the first reception toast,” Amanda says. We share a look.

“I remember that,” I say with a touch of acid. “I don’t remember much after that, though.”

“And then there was Lüq,” Marie adds.

“Lüq?” Declan and Shannon look at her.

“You know. He runs the spa at Litraeon?”

“Mom,” Shannon groans. “Hu. Not he. Hu is gender fluid.”

“Yes.
Hu
came to the reception and delivered a lovely bottle of wine in a basket with some sort of herb designed to help Shannon’s ovaries turn into blossoming wildflowers.” Marie drinks the rest of her latte. Her eyes cross and she lets out an intimate moan I wish I could unhear.

BOOK: Shopping for a CEO's Fiancee
3.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Los tontos mueren by Mario Puzo
Midnight Exposure by Leigh, Melinda
Noble Beginnings by D.W. Jackson
Treasuring Emma by Kathleen Fuller
The Trouble with Love by Cathy Cole
Out of Her League by Lori Handeland
Feel the Heat: A Contemporary Romance Anthology by Evelyn Adams, Christine Bell, Rhian Cahill, Mari Carr, Margo Bond Collins, Jennifer Dawson, Cathryn Fox, Allison Gatta, Molly McLain, Cari Quinn, Taryn Elliot, Katherine Reid, Gina Robinson, Willow Summers, Zoe York
Tainted Gold by Lynn Michaels
G'baena's Pirates by Rachel Clark