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Married This Christmas (Married This Year Book 5) by Tracey Pedersen (1)

Chapter 1

“I’m pregnant!”

“You’re what?”

She’s announcing this with a look that says I should be thrilled!

“Isn’t it exciting?” Jessica stalked forward and wrapped her hands around his waist as he stared at her. “You’re going to be a daddy!”

Shit! Not thrilled! Not thrilled!

“I’m confused, Jessica.” He pushed her away and glanced down at her smooth, flat stomach as she tried to stay glued to him. “I haven’t seen you for four months.”

“Well, I guess I’m one of those women who don’t show for ages.” She laughed loudly enough for him to hear above the thumping music. “It’s not like I haven’t tried to see you, Fish. You’ve been avoiding me.” She narrowed her eyes and the grin slipped from her mouth. “Why aren’t you smiling?”

“I’m in shock… and I’m trying to do the math.” He frowned down at her red lips as they morphed into a thin line.

This was not what I expected when I arrived at work today.

“You don’t need to hurt your poor little brain with the math, sweetie. Trust me, this baby is yours.”

She squeezed him tighter as her friend leaned in and spoke into her ear. There was a lull in the music and Fish heard her words loud and clear in the sudden silence. “I thought you said you were only seven or eight weeks pregnant, Jess?”

“Woah!” He reached behind him, unhooked her fingers, and backed away. “Guess that rules me out.”

Jessica glared at her friend and took a step toward him. “I’m definitely farther along than that. The results she’s talking about were from the first test, but I had another one. Come on, Fish, you can’t ignore me!”

“Oh, I definitely can, Jessica. You’re trying to convince me you’re having my baby when you clearly are not. Why would you do that?” He pushed her away, not waiting for an answer. Her ploy to trap him was obvious as he retreated toward the office and watched her turn on her girlfriend, eyes flashing.

Now that’s a conversation I’m glad to miss.

Their raised voices floated over the loud music as he quickly punched in his security code and pulled open the staff door. The quicker he got away from those two and whatever they’d been up to, the better. The darkness in the corridor blinded him for a moment as his eyes got used to the absence of flashing, coloured lights. Several blinks later, the outline of the back area came into focus. He made his way through the crowded hallway, careful not to trip on a mountain of chairs tucked away to his left. The music was muted to mostly a bass beat—a detail that surprised him every single time the door closed behind him.

The front of this bar was immaculate—cleaners made sure of that. Piles of broken furniture, however, were stacked out the back, along with a mountain of beer crates waiting to be returned to the vendor.

The owners, his bosses, had designed their venue with as much floor space for paying guests as possible. That left narrow corridors, tiny amenities, and next to no room for meeting spaces. If the staff were called together for a meeting, it took place in the main club before opening hours. A tiny office for admin work was crammed with filing cabinets overflowing with paperwork that matched the overflow from the desk. Fish had worked here for ten months now—long enough to know how things worked.

This is why he appreciated the tiny space allocated specifically to him. When he’d started, he hadn’t expected a dressing room. He was a DJ, after all, and a little known one at that. As the door opened on his own room the first day of his first permanent shift, a glimmer of excitement had washed through him.

Finally, I’m getting somewhere.

As he made his way down the corridor now, he was reminded of how excited he’d felt that first day, even though he’d been embarrassed to find his name printed on the door. He recognized the same thrill tonight, knowing he could lock himself in there for a few minutes of alone time. He needed more than the thirty minutes he was allowed for his break, though, as Jessica and her attempt to trick him bothered him more than he wanted to admit.

She was only the second girl he’d slept with since he started here. Jordan Parker had been the first, after a big night on New Year’s Eve that neither of them could remember. He’d thought she might grow to be more than just a hookup, but that had proved to be wishful thinking.

She was happy now—happy with Luke.

It wasn’t like he didn’t have enough women to choose from; dozens of them propositioned him every week. He wasn’t interested in casual, though. He was looking for a woman who would see him for who he was, instead of someone who would be thrilled to tell her friends she bagged the DJ on Saturday night after closing time. He shook his head as he thought about all the ways girls came on to him in the club. His friends thought he was crazy to reject the advances, and they’d been happy to hear he’d weakened and gone home with Jessica—until she started messaging them on social media and causing problems.

Once again, he’d chosen badly. No more, though.

No more sleeping with strangers. You need to date a few women and make sure you have common interests before taking things further. Promise yourself, Fish!

He nodded as he pushed open his door, already feeling his spine relax at the thought of sinking onto his tiny couch for a few moments. Definitely no more random hookups. I’ll have a quick lie down and run over the figures for my new business.

When the door opened and the dim light from the corridor shone on his favourite resting place, however, his plans were dashed. His eyes raked over two naked bodies stretched out on his cushions and huge smiles turned in his direction. Draped across each arm of the couch was a set of toned, naked legs.

His forward trajectory carried him into the room before he understood what he was looking at, and the door swung quietly closed behind him. His mouth dropped open; in the silence, both women giggled.

“Hi, Fish. We’ve been waiting for you,” they purred together, and for a crazy moment, he pictured them rehearsing their lines while they’d waited for him to appear. “We want to help you relax now that you’re on break.”

“How did you get back here?”

They giggled in unison, again. “It’s not hard to watch that code being punched in.” The blonde woman stood and flicked her hair behind her while the brunette lay back and stretched out on the couch. Her naked breasts waved at Fish, and he was so shocked that he couldn’t look away.

“That’s right, look what we’ve got for you.” The first woman reached out and took his hand. “Come on, enjoy the view.” She tugged him forward and slipped her hands around his neck as her perfume wafted up toward him. He stood frozen in the middle of the room, the taunts of his friends running through his head.

You should hook up more.

Take advantage of it, dude—you’ll be thirty soon.

If you’re not going to partake of what the universe has sent you, please send some my way.

Shit, dude, are you turning into a monk?

“Why aren’t you smiling? Isn’t it exciting?” she purred up at him as he finally pulled his eyes away from the woman on the couch and met hers. “Trust me, we’re both yours.” Her word choice reminded him of the conversation with Jessica he’d just escaped and he suddenly pulled away, remembering his recent pledge of no more mindless hookups. “Aren’t you thrilled to find two of us here?”

Not thrilled! Not thrilled!

“Sorry, ladies, but I’m going to have to disappoint you. I need to get back to work.” Fingers tightened around his neck and interlocked against his skin. He frowned down at her and slipped his own hands around her waist, but her hopeful expression changed as she realised he was pushing her away. “Sorry. Really. I don’t have the time the two of you deserve.”

The brunette on the couch sat up with her own hopeful expression. “We could wait here for you. What time do you finish?”

“Uhh… no, that’s okay. There’s no set time, so I’ll have to politely decline.” He pulled away again and ground his teeth as fingers struggled to hold onto his neck. With a short yank, he was free of the blonde’s grasp, and he quickly backed toward the door.

When it became clear they were not going to get their way, the women’s expressions changed, their displeasure apparent. Before they could berate him, he yanked the door open and fled the way he had come.

I promised myself no more random hook ups, but that’s it. No more women, period!