My Billionaire Fake Boyfriend
She’s dog’s best friend. He trusts no one. When opportunity knocks, will they allow love to run off the leash?
Malibu Beach, California. Maisie Jones’ sparkling smile can’t pay the bills. And after inheriting her grandparents’ debt, the pet photographer is desperate to keep a roof over the heads of her eight senior shelter dogs in need of forever homes. So when her gorgeous and crazy-rich neighbor inadvertently photobombs her latest charity TikTok promo, she’s only too happy to let the world think they’re a hot item.
Born into old money, Brad Zander will do anything to make his mark in Hollywood. And with his reputation in the dumps, he gives in to his agent’s urging to generate buzz with the charming social media sensation next door. But his viral PR boost takes an unexpected heart-fluttering leap when their staged parties and dates transform his cynicism into desire.
Despite Maisie’s growing attraction, she knows she can’t bring Brad the kind of lasting buzz he needs to make his new movie a smash hit. And as Brad hungers to prove himself beyond his wealth, he fears their delightful private cuddles may be coming to a very public end.
Can they stop living for the masses and settle into a cozy network of two?
My Billionaire Fake Boyfriend is the ridiculously hilarious first book in the Must Love Dogs romantic comedy series. If you like animal-loving heroines, devilishly intense heroes, and humor with a blush of steam, then you’ll adore Jennifer St. James’ breath of fresh air.
Read an Excerpt
~ Brad ~
Curly stares down at me with the same wild-eyed intensity that she showed while trying to pry her crazed chihuahua off Sweetie the night before. Her hair was apparently tied down at one point, but now the ponytail only corrals one section of her wild curls, with the rest floating free in the stiff ocean breeze. She’s wearing a green tee-shirt that looks as old as she is, beat up capris, and sturdy hiking sandals. And around her shoulder is slung…
I freeze. “You’re a fucking photographer?”
The ice in my voice catches her up short, and not only her. The boxer behind her tenses, and the retriever with my sandal in his mouth backs up without letting go of the shoe. Even the three scruffy balls of fluff stop twirling. Beyond them, at the fringe of the group, a sorrowful beagle and bug-eyed pug stare at me reproachfully. I don’t know where the chihuahua is…probably on his way up my beach walk to find Sweetie.
To Curly’s credit, she’s clearly used to dealing with wild animals. Her hands come up camera-free, fingers wide, her gaze direct and fixed on my eyes. “Not the way you think. I’m a dog photographer. Well, not solely dogs, but mostly dogs. I’m an animal photographer. I’m not whatever they call it, the paparazzi or whatever. I don’t take pictures of movie stars, I swear. Only dog photos. I put those photos up online to help get donations for their care. I take care of a lot of dogs.”
She speaks low and fast, but the sound of it surprises me the same way it did last night. She doesn’t strike me as a California girl, but her voice doesn’t have the hard angles of the Northeast or the flat planes of the West. And it definitely doesn’t have the soft rolls of the South.
“Where are you from?” I ask her. “Do you live here?”
If anything, the question seems to make her more nervous. “I live down the beach a bit. Here, let me get these dogs away from you. I didn’t mean to scare you, honestly. I won’t take your picture.”
“I don’t care if you take my fucking picture,” I growl, the headache coming back into focus as she leans forward to scoop up the chihuahua, who I now realize has remained hunkered down beside me the whole time. He leans toward my hand, clearly scenting Sweetie on me, and I squint at him.
“Dude, she’s not here. Have some self-respect.”
The completely unsuppressed giggle draws my attention back to Curly. She clamps her lips together, her cheeks reddening as she hugs the dog to her chest. “I swear he never does this,” she says, sounding thoroughly delighted. “Act out, I mean. It’s the happiest I’ve ever seen him.”
I peer harder at the dog, and finally notice the wild hairs poking from his brow bone, the white halos around his eyes. A quick glance around confirms my suspicion. “What are you, like a dog rescue photographer? Is that actually a thing? And you’re not from here, I know you’re not.”
“I’m not.” Curly squats to let the chihuahua wriggle free, grinning as he shimmies over to the sketchy looking beagle. She stands and moves over to a large burlap bag and unclips a fistful of leashes. “I moved here from Cleveland a few months ago. My grandparents lived here, and they left their beach house to me. And I photograph all sorts of people and pets, rescued ones included.”
“Uh huh. And you think I needed rescuing?”
Again with the giggle, but Curly is backing away now, the sun beating down on her, making it hard to see her face. “Come on guys, let Mr. Zander finish his nap. You don’t like it when I wake you up from your naps, do you? No you don’t. And don’t think I’m going to be enjoying lugging this bag of rocks back over to the gate. What the heck was wrong with you, pulling it all the way over here? How did you keep from getting all tangled?”
I sit up. “Hold on, seriously. You work at a shelter, or you babysit dogs or…what?”
Curly snorts, the sound so unlike any noise that most women make around me that my head clears a bit. She seems—happier than most women I know, too. And definitely more capable. She has all eight of her dogs on collar and leash, which is more than I can say for Sweetie back up at the house.
Aw, shit. Sweetie.
Except…wait a minute.
A solution to at least one of my problems bursts into my brain, perfectly formed. Before Curly can say anything else—or, even worse, leave—I press on.
“Look, I gotta leave tomorrow for a trip, and as you can probably tell, my dog babysitter last night sucks. It’s not even my dog—”
She turns and peers back at me, the breeze catching her hair. “I figured that.”
“—but she is my housekeeper’s, who’s out of pocket for a bit. Can I pay you to take care of her? As long as she doesn’t run away with your chihuahua?”
I heard her snark about me not being Sweetie’s owner, but I can’t afford to get pissed off about that—not until I lock her down as my dogsitter. Still, why does she think I can’t handle a tottering old poodle? Who does she—
But my question has done the trick. Curly’s mouth now rounds into a startled O, which instantly sends my thoughts zipping someplace completely different—somewhere where that mouth is soft and pliant and warm beneath mine, tasting of salt and sweat.
My whole body jacks to attention, and I suck in a breath at exactly the same time Curly does—though for vastly different reasons.
“Pay me?” she squeaks, blinking before she recovers herself. “Oh gosh, I don’t actually—”
But it’s too late, way too late. A familiar zing of control rushes through me, overpowering the sexual interest while at the same time adding to it. So, Curly needs money—hell, who doesn’t in Malibu, outside the one-percenters? She needs it, and I have it—which means I have her. Game fucking on.
I roll to my feet, not missing the way she watches me. She recognizes me—knows my name, not just that I’m one of the Richie Riches from up on the cliff. And she isn’t running away, so either my reputation doesn’t scare her, or she really does need the cash.
Or maybe she simply likes dogs.
Either way, I push hard, offering her my most earnest smile. “Seriously, I’m in a bind, and I’m leaving town early tomorrow. I’ll be gone for a week, maybe two tops. I know it’s an imposition, and I know you don’t know me other than my name—and that I have a dog in my care—but if you’re local here and you don’t mind, it will really help me out if you can watch Sweetie.”
I can see her waver, and the next words out of my mouth surprise even me, but I’m not losing this chance. “You can stay in the house if that makes it easier? All the food’s there, and I’ll pay you, of course. Five thousand dollars for the two weeks? Would that cover everything?”
I’m not an idiot. I counted the dogs, and I checked out Curly’s outfit. The camera, while high-end, is at least a few years old, and it’s dangling from her shoulder by a strap so heavy and old fashioned, she almost certainly bought it used. I’m sure as hell not going to let Amanda the Twit take care of Sweetie anymore. I don’t care whose daughter she is. And this windblown sea nymph of a woman clearly knows dogs, even if she doesn’t know how to keep her hair tied up.
“Five thousand dollars?” Curly asks faintly, blinking at me. “To watch your dog for two weeks?”
Boom. She’s mine. I don’t even feel bad about it. She’s too far away for me to know for sure the color of her eyes, but they’re light-colored. Maybe blue? Probably blue. She has a smattering of freckles across her cheeks, and the tip of her nose is burned. She said she just moved here…will she stay? Or is this a temporary relocation?
It doesn’t matter. I only need her for the next two weeks.