Title: Decidedly by Chance
Series: By the Bay #5
Author: Stina Lindenblatt
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: September 19, 2019
She's pregnant with another man's baby.
He's now the father to his little niece.
A sexy romance with all the feels!
Single Mom-To-Be Rule #1: watch out for those horny hormones.
After a childhood of bouncing from one foster home to another and a series of failed relationships, Iâve taken matters into my own hands when it comes to starting a family.
Or rather, someone elseâs hand. And a plastic cup.
Iâd rather be a single mom than be let down again, and Iâm definitely not looking for a baby daddy. That includes sexy workaholic game designer Wes Chiasson, thank you very much.
My software company has been my number one, two, and three priorities. But that all changes when I suddenly become the guardian of my three-year-old niece. Now my world has turned topsy-turvy with princesses and little-girl tea parties.
When Hannah Morrell needs a place to stay after the pipes in her apartment burst, I invite her to move in with my niece and me. Hannah is a pediatric nurse, and given my situation, who could ask for a better roommate?
Sounds easy. Right?
It isâuntil emotions get tossed into the mix. Because if thereâs one thing history has taught Hannah, itâs that the people whoâve gained her love canât be trusted.
And now I have to put my heart on the line to prove otherwise.
The next morning, I walked into Connorâs office without knocking first. âWhat can you tell me about a Philip Stevenson? Heâs a lawyer at Long and Fairbrother.â
âAny reason why youâre asking?â
âA friend of mine might be doing some business with him, and I want to make sure thereâs nothing sketchy about him.â
All right, that wasnât exactly the truth, but it was close enough. Business. Date. They were pretty much kissing cousins on the grand scale of things, especially where Hannah was concerned.
I knew Hannahâs dating life wasnât any of my business. It was her choice if she wanted to date some loserâas long as said loser wasnât also a big creep.
Which was why I was in Connorâs office. As Hannahâs new roommate, it was my duty to ensure things were on the up-and-up with this Philip guy.
âGive me three hours, and Iâll see what I can find,â Conner said.
âGreat. Thanks. I owe you one.â
âYou owe him what?â Jayden asked, strolling into the office. He handed Connor a short stack of files. âI need a level-four background check on these five guys.â
âIâm right on it.â
âGreat. So letâs return to what Wes owes youâ¦â He looked between us, expectantly.
âHave you considered the possibility that it has nothing to do with you?â I inwardly groaned. That was the worst thing I could have said to Jayden. It only spiked his curiosity.
âI haveâfor maybe one second. Two, tops. So spill it. Whatâs going on here?â
âWes needed to run a check on some lawyer,â Connor told him.
âWhy does Wes need you to do that?â Liamâs voice came from the doorway behind me.
I twisted away from the desk. âWhy is everyone suddenly curious about what Iâm doing?â
Jayden smirked. âBecause we know whatever youâre up to is bound to be entertaining.â
Connor adopted an identical expression. âHeâs got a point there.â
âLooks like weâre all in agreement.â Liam crossed his arms, demonstrating the bad-guy-beware stance he had perfected while with the SEALs.
âAll right, if you really must know. A stranger asked Hannah out on a date, and I want to make sure sheâs not going out with someone whoâs bad news.â
âAre we talking about Hannah Morrell? The woman whoâs one step away from getting her black belt, the woman who knows how to look after herself?â
The smirks on Connorâs and Jaydenâs faces grew wider.
âThat would be the one. Normally I would agree that she knows how to take care of herself. But sheâs pregnant now, so I donât think itâs a bad idea to ensure that she isnât in over her head.â
All three men exchanged looks.
âAnd for the record, you didnât hear about the pregnant part from me. Sheâs going to tell everyoneââI looked pointedly at Liamââincluding your fiancÃ©e, when sheâs ready.â
Did you hear that? That was the sound of a pin dropping against Connorâs desk. That was how quiet the room was after my little announcement.
Liam was the first to get over his shock. âHannah is pregnant?â
âI donât suppose youâre the father?â That would be Jayden.
âWhy would you even think that?â
âBecause everyone knows you used to have a thing for her.â Jayden might have said it, but his tone implied I still had a thing for her.
âI didnât have a thing for her, and I still donât.â Right, just be happy that lightning canât hit you inside a building, dumbass, an annoying voice in my head said. âAnd no, Iâm not the father.â
âDo you know who the father is?â Liam asked. âConnor can do a background check on him. Just to be sure she wonât be dealing with some major headaches down the line.â
âIs that the guy you want me to do the check on?â Connor asked. âIs he the father?â
I shook my head, even though I had no idea if Philip the lawyer made a recent deposit at the sperm bank. Even if he had, chances were slim that Hannah ended up with his sperm. âNo. Heâs just a stranger she met in a store yesterday, and he asked her out on a date.â
âOkay, Connor, do the background check on Hannahâs date first. And then report back to us.â
âUs?â I asked.
âYes, us. We want to know what weâre dealing with. We all like Hannah, and sheâs my fiancÃ©eâs friend. If Ava even suspects I havenât done my due diligence when it comes to Hannahâs dating life, I could end up losing my balls. And Iâve grown quite attached to them, no pun intended.â
I almost felt sorry for Hannahâs idiot date if Connor did turn up dirt on him. If the guysâ expressions were anything to go by, heâd be canceling soon after.
But none of this surprised me. The team had already dealt with the individual who had been fast on the draw when it came to towing Hannahâs vehicle. Connor had found dirt on him, and Jayden and Liam had a little chat with the douchebag to make sure he demonstrated restraint in the future.
âIs he picking her up for the date, or is she meeting him somewhere?â Jayden asked.
âShe said sheâs meeting him at Swizzle Sticks Lounge.â It was some fancy-ass place Iâd taken a couple of dates to in the past.
âThat part didnât come up in our conversation yesterday.â I was lucky I even found out his name and where they were meeting up.
And that was only because she wasnât expecting me to crash the date.
âNot a problem,â Liam said. âWe can set up a detail to follow her from Travisâs building.â
âWhat exactly are you guys planning to do?â
âQuite simple. Jayden and Isabelle will show up at the meeting and make sure everything goes smoothly.â
My gaze shifted to Jayden. âYou mean you two will be pretending to be on a date?â
âMore like two colleagues going out after work to discuss work-related matters.â
Plausible? Quite possibly. âThereâs only one problem with that plan,â I said, stalling on revealing the next part. âHannah isnât staying with Travis and Emma anymore.â
Liamâs eyebrows raised in either surprise or disbelief. âSheâs already found a new apartment?â
âNot exactly. Sheâs moving into my condo this afternoon.â
Whatever emotion Liam had experienced with my first revelation had just done an unexpected U-turn. It was now fully in the disbelief zone.
âSheâs moving in with you?â Liam asked, enunciating each word slowly.
âWell, not permanently. Just until she finds a new apartment. She wanted to give Travis and Emma some alone time before they become new parents.â
Iâd already revealed the part about her being pregnant. I had no intention of also mentioning about the audio porn and her heightened level of horniness, thanks to the pregnancy.
A level of horniness her dumbass date might get to appreciateâunless Jayden and Isabelle succeeded in disrupting his plans.
What does it matter if she and the dumbass have sex? the annoying voice in my head asked.
I ignored it.
âBut why with you?â Liam asked.
âBecause I invited her to stay with me while sheâs searching for a new apartment. But you have to admit, itâs a brilliant move on my part. Sheâs a pediatric nurse, and who knows kids better than a nurse who specializes in them? Sheâs about five steps ahead of where I am as Everlyâs guardian and uncle.â
I had expected them to see the genius behind my inviting Hannah to stay with Everly and me. Instead, skepticism stared back at me.
âAre you sure thatâs a good idea?â Liam finally voiced.
âWhy wouldnât it be? She needs a place to stay. And now she has plenty of time to find the right apartment to move into. She doesnât have to settle for less. Iâve seen some of the locations sheâs been looking at. If youâd seen them, you would agree with me, too. They werenât the right apartments for her to raise her baby.â And because I was on a roll, I threw in for added benefit, âApartment hunting is exhausting and stressful enough when you arenât pregnant. Hannah doesnât need that extra stress now that she is pregnant.â
Clearly, the guys didnât agree with me. The skepticism had been turned up several notches.
âHonestly, thereâs nothing going on between us. So donât make more of this than there is. Iâm just being there for her as a friend. Any of you guys would do the same if you were in my situation.â
Yep, that didnât do much to erase their disbelieving expressions either. âDo you want me to text you when she leaves for her date?â I asked Jayden.
âThat will work. But first things first. I need to check that Isabelle is free tonight.â
âTell her itâs for work,â Liam called after him. âSheâs been after me to let her be more hands-on with our cases,â he added once Jayden was out the door. âHopefully this will appease her for a while.â
Connor leaned back in his chair. âItâs one of our least dangerous cases.â
Rightânot dangerous at all. Unless Hannah puts two plus two together when Jayden and Isabelle mysteriously show up at the same location as her and her dumbass date.
I kept that thought to myself.
Jayden returned a few minutes later to let us know Isabelle had agreed to the scheme. Connor got to work on gathering intel on Hannahâs date, and the rest of us returned to our own jobs.
Several hours later, we were in his office again, ready to hear the dirt on Philip Stevenson.
âI swear, he has to be the most boring man on the planet,â Connor said. âHeâs a contract lawyer with no dings on any aspect of his work ethics. He hasnât had a single speeding ticket, parking ticket, or accident. He has lived in San Francisco his entire life. His mother owns a store that specializes in Christmas and his father is an accountant. He volunteers once a month at the food bank and plays racquetball twice a week with a colleague, who was also his best friend in high school.â
By boring, I assumed Connor was referring to the manâs lack of a criminal record.
Or an indication that Hannah was in for a very dull night.
None of this matters, I reminded myself. As long as she has fun and heâs not a jerk, thatâs all that matters.
Nope, I didnât believe that either.
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Born in Brighton England, Stina Lindenblatt has lived in a number of countries, including England, the US, Finland, and Canada. This would explain her mixed up accent. She has a kinesiology degree and a MSc in sports biological sciences. In addition to writing fiction, she loves photography, especially the close-up variety, and currently lives in Calgary, Canada, with her husband and three kids.
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