Home > Shopping for a CEO (Shopping for a Billionaire #7)(2)

Shopping for a CEO (Shopping for a Billionaire #7)(2)
Author: Julia Kent

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 half 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 twenty 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.”

He’s serious.

“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.”

Oh, God.

“Okay, great,” I mumble, nodding vigorously. Okay, great 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?

And I’m the freak.

I guzzle the third beer and the waitress gives me a look. She comes over with the check. Ron ignores it.

Oh, Ron.

“I’d like an orange-flavored seltzer,” I ask the waitress. She nods and walks off.

Ron snickers.

“What’s funny?” I ask.

“Flavored seltzer. You know what they use to flavor those.” One corner of his mouth hooks up as his hand brushes against the check folder. He still doesn’t pick it up. I’m on an expense account, so it’s no big deal. Plus, technically, this is work, so why do I care that the guy won’t get the check?

And yet this is a little too close to a date for my comfort.

It has nothing to do with the fact that I haven’t been on a real date—one I’m not getting paid to attend—in months.

Not a thing.

“Amanda?” Ron gently nudges my hand.

“Oh, yes?” I’m in la la land, already distracted.

He smiles. “Beaver anal glands.”

“Beaver huh?”

The waitress sets my bottle of flavored seltzer water on the table. Ron points to it. “The flavoring. They express beaver anal glands to make most of those flavors.”

I pour the bottle into the glass of ice and laugh.

As I take a sip, our eyes meet.

He shrugs. “Look it up. For real.”

I drink the entire glass in one long motion.

And then I burp the ABCs.

Chapter Two

To my utter surprise (not), Ron ditches me, his phone buzzing suspiciously about two minutes after my spectacular belch. I’m not being hyperbolic: that burp was so good that some frat boys at a nearby table gave me a standing ovation.

Ron’s rescue text is so obvious it might as well have had flashing red and blue lights attached to it.

He leaves me with the bill. I pull out the company card and give the waitress a fifty percent tip. She deserves it.

Three beers pool in my bladder and taunt me as I try, repeatedly, to make quick notes about the date to help me write up my survey.

No luck. Can’t write. I need to evacuate the beaver funk.

Wait. That sounds very, very wrong....

As I weave to the bathroom, I run through the date in my mind. Dog lovers have different needs from your average desperate single looking for love. Because I am your average desperate single looking for love, I know what I’m talking about.

And DoggieDate has definitely figured out a distinct niche of the dating pool.

A pool I plan never to swim in.

This restaurant is on the Boston waterfront, right along a string of buildings that face the seaport. The bathroom is marble-lined and covered in fake Tiffany lamp fixtures, with glass beads and lots of prism reflections throughout the little enclosed room. I finish my business, scrubbing my hands extra hard as I wash them, and wonder if Ron was telling the truth.

Beaver glands for fruit flavoring in water? Now I’ve heard everything.

I waltz out of the restaurant, a little loose from those beers. The frat boy table gives me scattered thumbs up, one of the guys following me with his eyes the entire way out. I know this because the double glass doors show his reflection as I walk toward them.

I still got it.

At least, when it comes to impressing twenty-year-old college boys with my belching techniques.

Early spring on the seaport in Boston is fabulous at night if the snow has all melted and you have a warm breeze, which I do tonight. I walk outside and stare at the rippling water, inky black with gilded tips, the moon shining on them, making the waves look like knife edges popping up to and fro. My thick sweater wrap is just enough to prevent me from freezing.

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