Baby Daddy

By: Lauren Landish

A single night changes everything.

I go from town to town, never staying in one place for long. I’m always chasing the next deal, the next adrenaline rush and thriving in the great outdoors.

Until one fateful trip, one chance encounter. When I meet her... my beautiful Rose.

It was only supposed to be one night. No strings attached. Our chemistry was off the charts and we didn’t fight it.

But ever since then, she's all I think about. Replaying the perfect night over and over and thinking about what could've been.

Now I'm back in her town, and it could be my one chance to claim what should have been mine forever and not for just one night.

I've got it all figured out. But as soon as I see her, I come to a screeching halt. What's with the anger in her eyes? And whose baby is she carrying?

Am I too late to make her mine?

Chapter 1


I flip through the rack of dresses, looking for the sparkly black one I know will be perfect. My boutique has a lot of things, but one item that I do better than anyone in town is dresses. Proms, weddings, engagements, whatever . . . you want something unique for that special day, I’m the woman you see.

The problem is, I think to myself as I go through the next rack, I’m running out of space to keep everything on the floor. Prom dresses aren’t exactly like selling lingerie. They take up a lot of space.

Just when I’m about to grunt in frustration, I see it. I’ve got a sorting system for all of my dresses . . . I just have a problem remembering what, exactly, that system is at times. “A-ha!”

“Find it, dear?” asks my customer, a lovely middle-aged woman who’s been trying on dresses for an hour now in preparation for her twentieth anniversary. She wants something special, and as I pull out the hanger, I know she’s going to be happy. Slinky but not skintight, with a spray of jewels on the left side of the top, it’s perfect for a woman who wants to look sexy without showing too much skin.

“Found it, Mrs. Alameda! You’ll have to pick your husband’s jaw up off the floor if you wear this on your night out.”

I slip the dress past the dressing room curtain, a smile taking over my face as I hear her gasp in delight. It’s a good dress, one I picked up online for a lot less than it should have been from a designer who sells one-of-a-kind pieces on Etsy. I’m not one to care about names, but if the dress looks great, I’ll snatch it up for myself or for the store.

“It’s perfect! Thanks, Rose!”

She comes out of the dressing room, and I’m impressed. She’s rocking that dress like nobody’s business. “Whoo-whee, you wear that and you’re going to be getting the attention of more than your husband. Hope you know you’re going to be causing whiplash.”

Mrs. Alameda blushes, running her hand through her long, thick black hair, and she shrugs a little. “Well, as long as John enjoys it . . . but I feel like—”

“Like we need some accessories,” I finish for her before she can start the negative self-talk. Sure, retail therapy isn’t as good as a shrink, but I try my best without screwing my customers. “I know just what’ll go with this.”

A little more rummaging around, and I find a long necklace with pearl accents that goes great with the dress, and a pair of peep-toe booties too. “What do you think?”

“I think,” she says, grinning, “that I’m going to have a really good anniversary.”

Ten minutes later, Mrs. Alameda is on her way to knock her man’s socks off, or maybe his shorts, if things go according to plan.

“Another happy customer,” I say to myself, warm with the satisfaction of a job well done as I lock the door behind her to close for the day. Totaling out the register for the day, I’m thrilled to see the daily receipts match the running sum I always keep in my head.

I quickly export the info into my accounting software and do a little wiggling shake of celebration as I realize my sales are on track to make this my best month yet.

At least I’m a rousing success in this area of my life. I’ve worked incredibly hard since graduating college with both business and marketing degrees, making my dream of owning my own boutique a reality.

I hadn’t known a single person when I moved to Great Falls, a sleepy little suburb nestled in the shadow of the surrounding mountains. With a university just to the south and the promise of a growing ski and mountain resort trend, all things had pointed to it being an up-and-coming destination spot. What sealed the deal for me was the throwback Main Street vibe to keep that small-town feel for visiting tourists.

It was perfect for me and my new venture, the Mountain Rose boutique. I don’t know if it’s magic or not, but since the new Mountain Spirit Resort went in and my friends McKayla and Brad opened their salon down the street from me, my customer base has definitely grown. I’ve turned the corner, and I’m kicking ass and taking names.

Every day, I help people create fashionable looks that represent who they are, or sometimes who they want to be. I scour fashion magazines and decide which trends will sell to my demographic, and I order thoughtfully to make sure the profit margin stays well into the positives.

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