(Shopping for a Billionaire #6)
Publication date: February 26th 2015
Genres: Comedy, New Adult, Romance
All of our best dates end up in the emergency room….
I planned the perfect proposal. Plenty of lobster, caviar, champagne and–her favorite–tiramisu. The perfect setting. The perfect woman. The perfect everything.
Dad gave me my late mother’s engagement ring, platinum and diamonds galore. Shannon wouldn’t care if I slid a giant hard-candy ring on her finger instead of a three-carat diamond designed to impress. But my future mother-in-law, Marie, will pass out when she sets eyes on that rock, which will give us two minutes of blessed silence. That woman talks more than Kim Kardashian flashes her naked backside on the internet.
I was going to make it perfect, from the color of the tablecloth to the freshness of the roses. And it was perfect.
Until Shannon swallowed the ring.
* * *
Shopping for a Billionaire’s Fiancée gives near-billionaire Declan McCormick the chance to tell his story in this continuation of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Shopping for a Billionaire series.
Top 5 Ways to Meet a Billionaire While Mystery Shopping
5. Drive a car that advertises a coffee shop but the “coffee bean” on top looks like something else. Drive it to the most expensive mall in town. Pretend to ignore the stares.
4. Mystery shop at Tiffany’s while borrowing your neighbor’s teacup chihuahua.
3. Pretend you’re the cleaning lady for the helicopters parked on top of the skyscrapers in Boston.
2. Refuse all fast food mystery shopping jobs.
1. Evaluate the cleanliness of the men’s bathroom and drop your cell phone in the toilet by accident.
Number One definitely happens in the Shopping for a Billionaire series... ;)
Q: In Shopping for a Billionaire, Shannon Jacoby is a twenty-three year old, new college grad who is a mystery shopper for a living. She meets billionaire Declan McCormick while shopping one of his stores. What made you decide to write about a mystery shopper as a heroine?
A: I mystery shopped for about 13 years, on and off, and wrote articles and short books about it. It’s the neatest side job, actually: you really do get paid to shop. I’ve had my car’s oil changed, stayed in luxury hotels, eaten $250 dinners (where I HAD to get drinks, appetizers, steaks and dessert...poor me), and done the more boring jobs, like credit unions and fast food. We live in a consumer society and someone has to check in on how clerks treat customers.
I thought it would be a neat story: what if an average, not-glamorous woman met a billionaire while mystery shopping? And I took it from there.
Q: Shannon comes from this warm, loving -- but slightly whacky -- family. Declan’s family is him, two brothers, and a high-powered, emotionally closed-off father. How on earth do these two relate to each other?
A: Shannon’s drawn to Declan’s composure and he’s drawn to her amazing emotional intelligence. they really do balance each other out. in this new book, Shopping for a Billionaire’s Fiancee, we see a big clash between the two styles, though. In the end, they come to appreciate each other even more (although I think Shannon and Declan could do without the fistfight their fathers get into!).
Q: One of the major topics in this series is deadly bee and wasp allergies. Declan’s mom died from one, his brother is highly allergic, and it turns out Shannon is, too. How does Declan overcome his fear and love Shannon?
A: Because you can’t pick who you fall in love with. Seriously. Declan’s all about being in control and -- poof! Fate made him fall for a woman who has the same deadly allergy his mother had. Fate’s a mean little b*&ch.
Q: You wrote Shopping for a Billionaire’s Fiancee entirely from the man’s point of view. Why?
A: Not quite...there’s a surprise at the end. No spoilers, though! But yes -- 99% of the book is entirely Declan’s point of view. I felt like the Shopping for a Billionaire book -- which was 670 pages -- was entirely Shannon’s viewpoint. We needed to get to know the deeply-composed, calm and rational Declan. Turns out he’s a horndog ;).
Q: Are you writing more Declan and Shannon?
A: Oh, yes! Reader response to these books has been amazing. I’m already working on a book about Shannon’s best friend, Amanda, and Declan’s CEO brother, Andrew. Those two have their own fun to figure out as best man and maid of honor in Shannon and Declan’s wedding! That book is coming sometime in late 2015.
Excerpt from Shopping for a Billionaire’s Fiancee:
Shannon has no idea how many layers of beauty she has. And that’s exactly why she’s so exquisite.
When I was sixteen, the year before my mother died, Mom took me and my little brother, Andrew, to New York City for a long weekend. Pulled us out of school over the objections of the headmaster at our academy. Mom didn’t care. We spent three nights at the Waldorf Astoria, skated at Rockefeller Center, had the best seats at the top Broadway musicals, and dined on the finest footlongs you could get for $3. Loaded with mustard and sauerkraut, plus a cream soda or two.
(Do you have something against footlongs? Too bad. Two teenagers can only handle so much caviar and lobster.)
What I remember most about that trip, and what Shannon reminds me of every moment I look at her, was our trip to the Museum of Modern Art. Mom insisted we go, and Andrew and I rolled our eyes like sets of dice at a craps table.
And then I got it, right there in front of a Vincent van Gogh masterpiece. In art history class we’d covered this painting in detail. We were taught the biography of Van Gogh, how he came to create the series of paintings, his motivation, and his flaws. We’d dissected the meaning so thoroughly that I felt like I could recreate the art by automation, our elite prep-school instruction clinical and impeccable.
Standing in front of the painting, a few feet away, with my eyes trailing the curve of brush strokes, my mind taking in the nuance of color, my senses dazzled by the sheer essence of the whole, I halted. Froze. Was completely in the painting’s spell.
You can study something in the abstract. Know it’s real somewhere out there in the world, and understand intellectually that what you read in a book or what you’re told by someone else is true.
You have to stand in front of it and have it stare back at you, though, to really know it.
That’s how I feel when I look at Shannon. Every single time my eyes find her. Shannon’s smile is warm and sweet, yet better every time she flashes it at me. Her honey-colored hair shines in the sunlight but looks richer when it’s tangled, in bed, highlighted by the moon and messed by me. Those warm eyes see only me when we’re together. That luscious body craves my touch. My hands. My...all of it.
When I’m with her, the world is more nuanced. Deeper. Authentic. Real.
She’s a work of art, one of a kind. And one I get to hold next to my body, tuck away in my heart, and...grow old with.
I have planned the perfect proposal. No footlongs and sauerkraut, unfortunately, but plenty of lobster, caviar, champagne and—her favorite—tiramisu. (What is it with women and tiramisu? It’s cream, cheese, sugar, cake and rum, not some magic potion that generates mouth orgasms. My Y chromosome scratches its head in confusion, but hey, if it’s her favorite...I give my woman what she wants.)
Dad gave me Mom’s engagement ring, platinum and diamonds galore, a monstrosity he’d bought for her nearly four decades ago as his business took off. The ring is designed to impress. I doubt Shannon would care if I slid a giant hard-candy ring on her finger instead of a three-carat diamond.
And, frankly, I don’t care, either. But the thought of my Shannon sharing such an important part of my mother’s life makes my chest swell. Only Shannon—and my mom—can do that. Only love can do that.
Plus, Marie will pass out when she sets eyes on that rock, and that will give us two minutes of blessed silence. That woman talks more than Kim Kardashian flashes her naked ass on the internet.
“It’s not as if your brothers are planning to tie themselves down to one woman any time soon, if ever,” Dad had said when he gave it to me. He’s about as sentimental as a pet rock. After having it resized to fit my future fiancée, it was ready to rest on yet another McCormick woman’s finger.
It was going to be calculatedly perfect, down to the color of the tablecloth and the freshness of the roses.
And it was perfect.
Until Shannon swallowed the ring.
Top 10 Most Embarrassing Moments Caused by Your Future Mother-in-law
10. That time she banged a spoon against a wine glass to get you to kiss Shannon as you went out for your first business meeting.
9. When she invited you to the yoga class she taught and encouraged the old ladies to pinch your ass.
8. When she talked about her sex life.
7. When she talked about her sex life.
6. When she talked about her sex toys.
5. Where was I? I just bleached my brain....
4. The time she stormed into your father’s corporate offices and yelled at him for blaming you for your mom’s death. And then your future-father-in-law showed up. And then your dad and future father-in-law got into a brawl worthy of WWF Wrestling.
3. When she brought Shannon’s pet cat, Chuckles, to the mall when you were playing Santa and made the cat wear reindeer antlers.
2. That time she brought a camera crew to Shannon’s apartment and barged in on you making love, cameras rolling.
1. Come to think about it...every waking moment around her.
Excerpt from Shopping for a Billionaire’s Fiancee:
Grace taps her knuckles on my doorway. For some reason, the door is ajar, the muffled sounds of copiers buzzing and people talking to each other a dull roar in the distance. They all annoy me.
“Declan? The jeweler called. The ring is ready.”
My blank stare is all I can muster.
She smiles. “Are you?”
“Am I what?”
“Ready.” Grace looks like she could get into a catfight with Honey Boo Boo’s mom and come out the winner. When she frowns, something deep and primal in me clenches.
That’s why she’s the best damned admin a guy could have. No worries about office sex (Grace is a lesbian married to a rugby player) and in a pinch, she can act as a bodyguard.
“Ready for a meeting?” Based on the look she gives me, I am not with the program this morning. Frankly, I am not on the planet this morning. Between a helicopter ride from New York that was so choppy I might as well have been riding a bucking bronco, and no sex at all from Shannon for three entire days (due to business meetings in NYC), I am lucky I can read a basic stock report and tie my shoes.
“Ready to get married.”
Oh. Yeah. And then there’s that.
Did I mention the no sex part? Because that’s really occupying my addled brain more than the whole pick-one-woman-for-the-rest-of-your-life thing.
And only one woman.
It’s not so hard to pick one woman to be with for all eternity, right? Grace did it, so I can, too. “Yeah. I’m ready.”
“You look sick. Not ‘ready’.” Grace steps in my office all the way and gently closes the door, holding the doorknob like it’s a ticking time bomb, waiting for the gentle click before turning to me with that look.
You know that look. The look older women give you, their eyes going soft and concerned, like you deserve to be the object of pity, the recipient of chicken soup and completely unusable advice.
Three thin, gold bracelets jangle against her freckled, wrinkled skin. She’s nothing like my future mother-in-law, and--
My entire body tenses for no apparent reason whatsoever. It’s as if the Ghost of Testosterone Past has slipped into my office unannounced.
“I’m fine,” I insist. This is getting old. I have three video conferences with accounts, a business lunch with a client who thinks tequila shots confer the same health benefits as a field green salad (and by the fourth shot, I always agree with him), and a woman right here in this building who I need to locate, pull into a supply closet and bang senseless.
(That would be Shannon, for the record.)
“Declan, I’ve known you since you were in high school, and I’m going to take off my admin hat for a moment and put on my not-quite-mother hat,” Grace says, complete with hand gestures, as if she’s pretending to wear a hat.
Grace was a pre-school teacher in her first career. It shows.
“I have enough not-quite-mothers in my life,” I say in the most I am annoyed voice I can manage, which is a pretty damn strong one. Shannon tells me I have Resting Asshole Face. It’s like Resting Bitchface but for men.
I try it out on Grace right now.
She waves me off. “Oh, stop it. Listen to me. You’re about to propose to the woman you love. Any man in your shoes would be nervous.”
“Nervous,” I scoff, standing up and buttoning my suit jacket, unbuttoning it, buttoning it. The buttons are a bit tight and it just came back from the tailor for readjustment. I am not nervous.
“You’re human, Declan.”
“I’m a McCormick. We’re not allowed to be human.”
“No matter how often your father says that, you know it’s not true,” Grace says with a smile, clasping her hands in front of her, making the gold at her wrists jingle again.
Someone knocks on the door. We both turn and look.
“Come in,” I call out. To Grace, I mutter, “Maybe we’re secret immortal werewolves and we’ve fooled you.”
“You’re too vain about your suits to let them get torn when you shift,” says Shannon, entering the room with a smile.
One part of my clothing threatens to split quite suddenly.
Grace gives me a look that says We’re not done here. Oh, yes, we are. We’re done talking about whether I’m ready for marriage and, instead, we’re going to talk about how ready I am for sex.
If we’re measuring that readiness, it’s a good nine inches long.
(You expect me to be modest? Good luck with that. Facts are facts.)
Shannon works three floors below me. I like knowing she’s under me all the time. Right now, I want her on top of me, beneath me, spooned in front of me, on her knees at my feet...hell, I’ll take anything. I can hear my heart beat in the quiet between us, except the blood isn’t pounding through my chest right now.
Grace departs, and I take in the vision of my future bride. Bride. I like that word. Could get used to saying it, especially since it has the word “ride” tucked right in there.
Shannon. My ride.
She’s wearing a dark grey suit with a double-breasted jacket and a light colored shirt under it. Nylons and high heels a little taller than the ones she normally wears. Her brown hair is pulled back in a braid, her lips freshly painted with bright red lipstick. Long lashes frame those perfect eyes. Shannon is working the hell out of the naughty librarian look.
She moves toward my desk, not touching me, walking past to tease. She knows damn well how hard I want her, er...how much I want her, and she’s prolonging the moment, stretching it out in an endless series of sultry moves designed to make me fling every paper off my desk and take her in front of the giant glass windows here on the twenty-second floor, with a view of the Back Bay our orgasmic scenery.
The seam of my zipper begins to split as she pulls herself up to sit on the edge of my desk, slipping her heels off with stocking feet, and she widens her legs.
Garters. Red garters. And--
My inner werewolf is trying to climb out of my body through my pants fly.
She’s wearing no panties. At all. Shannon doesn’t do this.
Oh, thank God she’s doing this.
Interview for Shopping for a Billionaire’s Fiancee:
Q: Why a mystery shopper and a billionaire? Isn’t that an odd combination?
A: Yes! And that’s the point: you don’t think about someone who mystery shops for a living finding herself dating a high-powered billionaire. Most mystery shoppers go into stores and do customer service evaluations (in secret!) to make a little money and get free stuff. Billionaires are the opposite: their time is more valuable than anything else. It seemed like a neat combination, and one that would give me some great material to work with.
Q: Shannon struggles in the first book (Shopping for a Billionaire) with her feelings for her ex-boyfriend, Steve. Declan is full-on attracted to her, and has no problem putting Steve in his place when they meet. Why didn’t Shannon just dump Steve right away?
A: Shannon’s ex does NOT appear in Shopping for a Billionaire’s Fiancee (though he will appear in future books...spoiler!) because it took 670 pages in the first book to deal with that! Shannon is a deeply loyal person, but at the beginnning of the series she’s also insecure. She’s trying to figure out who she is in relation to other people -- and what she wants out of life. Navigating that road can be tough, but she does it so well. She admire’s how Declan just knows what he wants, and gets it.
At the same time, Declan really treasures the fact that Shannon is a deep feelers. She isn’t shallow like so many women he’s dated.
Q: You’ve turned a cat into a character. Chuckles the Cat is, um...evil personified. Tell us about Chuckles.
A: To be fair, we meet Chuckles in Shopping for Billionaire when Shannon is petting him and her mother appears suddenly in the apartment. Shannon turns the poor cat into a weapon, flinging him at her mom. I’d plan mayhem and destruction is someone did that to me. :)
When I write Chuckles I imagine an evil little frustrated man is trapped inside him. Poor cat. Shannon’s mom makes him wear reindeer costumes for Christmas pictures, for goodness sake!
But Chuckles LOVES Declan. He’s a kindred spirit.
Q: Declan does the classic “slip the ring in a glass of Champagne” proposal, but...
A: It goes horribly wrong. The ring never ends up in the Champagne, but it -- whoops! SPOILER. Can’t tell the rest. Let’s just say Declan turns out to make mistakes, too. And he pays dearly for them.
Q: You used a lot of Twitter jokes in your Shopping for a Billionaire series. Will we see more Tweets in this book?
A: A few. Jessica Coffin (Steve’s girlfriend and Shannon’s nemesis) makes a brief reappearance that involves a particularly gross hashtag involving poor Shannon’s ring debacle.
Q: Are there more books planned in this series?
A: Oh, yes. Writing one as we speak. :)
Excerpt from Shopping for a Billionaire’s Fiancee:
Something feels off. I sit up, moonlight streaming through the expanse of glass behind my headboard, the ticking silence of the middle of the night grey and ethereal. My mouth is dry and my skin tingles with danger.
My own home isn’t safe.
Clicking sounds in the distance pierce my closed bedroom door. I quietly open my closet and pull out the aluminum baseball bat I store in there for moments like this.
Whatever this is.
Later, I realize I should have called 911. But when you’re in the haze of being woken by a home invasion, you don’t think clearly.
Besides, evolution has primed me for this very moment. Testosterone oozes out of my pores. This is a moment men imagine from the time they’re small little beasts with superhero capes and nerf guns.
Defending our turf.
Quiet as a ninja, I walk on the balls of my feet, opening my bedroom door and proceeding down the hall. Andrew is silent, too, his feet hanging off the end of my couch, the blanket pooled on the floor beneath him. His mouth is open and he’s drooling a little, my nice leather sleek and shiny in the moonlight.
He’s useless against the seven-foot, muscled cat burglar who is obviously here to steal my soul and my valuable electronics.
My eyes dart to the door, where an inch of light from the hallway peeks in, illuminating the library table where I dump my mail.
A knee appears, with a shiny high heel at the foot.
Interesting cat burglar.
Then more knee. A thigh. Hips that make hot blood pound through me, the rest of Shannon entering the room on tip toes. She rotates and closes the door with such precision I start to wonder if she breaks into people’s houses for a living.
I flatten myself against the wall where she can’t see me, and slowly set the baseball bat on a small wool area carpet. We’re both creeping around my apartment in silence, but for very different reasons now.
She cuts behind the couch and stands in front of the breakfast bar, slipping off her trench coat.
Oh, sweet merciful universe.
She is naked except for the high heels.
Merry Christmas in August.
Those come-fuck-me pumps are candy apple red and scream out my name. No, really. I can hear them, tiny little voices that only my now-rising-to-the-occasion little head can hear. It’s like those shoes communicate on a radio frequency that my testicles can tune into.
And...I’m at attention.
What is she doing here?
“Shannon?” I whisper, stepping out into the moonlight, hoping I don’t scare her.
She startles and freezes, hand on one breast over her heart. Her hair is loose and flowing, and she’s curled it. She painted her face, eyes big and bright, lips red and stunning.
She shifts her weight to one hip, eager and a little shy, but also bold.
“Let’s make up,” she says, squaring her shoulders. “And happy birthday!”
Oh, man. That’s right. I’d completely forgotten.
Andrew’s head pops up from the other side of the couch and he gapes at Shannon. “Dec? You hired a stripper? I knew you and Shannon were on the outs, but damn, man, you can’t just—”
“AAAAIIIIEEEEEEEE!” Shannon screams. If this whole marrying a billionaire and working in corporate America thing doesn’t work for her, she has a future in horror films.
Interview for Shopping for a Billionaire’s Fiancee:
Q: Shannon has an overbearing mother and a dad who is what’s described as a “beta-alpha”. What does that mean?
A: Beta-alpha men look like pushovers from the outside, but you cross a line or upset the people they love, and the alpha comes out in them - fast, hard, and it’s not going away. These are the guys who seem really mellow and low key and then BAM! They’re in full-blown dominant mode.
In this new book there’s a scene where Shannon’s dad, Jason, goes into alpha mode. Actually, two scenes, though one is more subtle. Jason’s a really great, loving father and husband, but Declan learns in Shopping for a Billionaire’s Fiancee that he’d better not underestimate his new father-in-law.
Q: Shannon left her mystery shopping job and went to work at Declan’s international corporation. She’s really worried people will think she slept her way to the top.
A: Declan really hopes she does. Well, sleeps her way into his office.
Q: Meanwhile, his father, James, has a past history with her mother. James and Marie dated. Will that come up in future books?
A: It’s a major part of Shopping for a Billionaire’s Fiancee, and it’s pivotal. Shannon stands up to Declan’s father. Declan does, too, but in this case it’s Shannon and her mother, Marie, who take on James’ cold exterior and his negativity toward Declan. Declan can hold his own, of course. He’s a dominant alpha male who wants to be CEO of the company (a spot his younger brother is being groomed for). He sees again why he loves Shannon so much when he watches how she handles the weirdness of his father and her mother in a fight scene that...well, I won’t spoil it.
Q: Shannon actually swallows the ring?
Q: Do people really do that?
A: YES! I researched it. There’s a famous case of a young woman who drank a Wendy’s Frosty drink and her boyfriend had put her engagement ring in it. She didn’t even feel it! Hospital X-rays show the ring stuck inside her (Google it...you’ll see). So I am not making this up! :P
Q: And, inevitably, what goes in must, uh, come out?
A: I don’t want to gross anyone out, but, um...yeah. It’s a three carat diamond ring. It needs to be rescued. How it’s rescued is, well...a story LOL. And then there’s a proposal and...it’s all good in the end. Er, wait...that doesn’t sound quite right. You know what I mean!
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge, and new adult books that push contemporary boundaries. From billionaires to BBWs to rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every book she writes, but unlike Trevor from Random Acts of Crazy, she has never kissed a chicken.