Shannon Stacey

Married by Mistake

Sutton's Place, Book 6
Harlequin Special Edition
November 28, 2023
ISBN-13: 9781335594433
ISBN-10: 1335594434

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A husband for the holidays!

When sworn enemies Chelsea Grey and John Fletcher travel to Las Vegas for a friend’s wedding, the last thing they anticipate is waking up married themselves. Unfortunately, disentangling their wedding knot proves more complicated than they’d hoped. With Christmas fast approaching, the feisty barista and her coffee-hating “hubby” are still living under one roof—and wondering why their temporary marriage is suddenly feeling suspiciously like the real thing…

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Chapter One

Good morning, Stonefield! Just a reminder the Stonefield Public Library will be closed this weekend because the librarian has run off to Las Vegas to get married! Best wishes to Callan Avery and Molly Cyrs! And a little birdie told us the Perkin’ Up Café and Fletcher Digital Restoration and Design are also closed because Chelsea Grey and John Fletcher were invited to witness the happy event. We’re hoping what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas and there will be lots of photos!

—Stonefield Gazette Facebook Page

Before she even opened her eyes, Chelsea Grey knew she wasn’t in her own bed. It was the sheets that gave it away. Never in her life had she been able to afford sheets this luxuriously soft.

Las Vegas, she thought. That explained not only the hotel sheets, but also the headache. After flying in from New Hampshire yesterday, she’d gone straight to a prewedding celebration for her friend Molly and her sexy librarian fiancé, Callan.

Chelsea groaned and forced her eyes open. Obviously, she’d celebrated a little too much.

Stretching, she reached for the bottle of water on the nightstand, not caring if it was warm, but a glint of gold stopped her. There was a ring on her left hand—on that finger.

Molly’s ring.

Yes, Molly had given her the rings before they boarded their flight in Boston and asked her to keep them safe. Chelsea took that responsibility very seriously, but putting Molly’s band on her finger seemed like an extreme way to keep from losing it.

Just as she lifted herself onto her right elbow so she could reach the water bottle, the mattress dipped and the soft, expensive sheet slid over her toward the other side of the bed. Dry mouth instantly forgotten, she gasped and sat up, yanking the sheet back and clutching it to her neck.

An extremely handsome man was blinking up at her. His dark hair was tousled—and, oh no, she could remember those thick strands sliding through her fingers—and his strong jaw was shadowed by dark stubble. Confusion clouded his bright blue eyes, and the way he winced told her his head wasn’t in any better shape than hers.

She was in bed with John Fletcher. Her nemesis, if she was feeling dramatic. And right now felt pretty dramatic.

They were naked.

And he was wearing Callan’s wedding band.

“Chelsea?” He scrubbed his hand over his face, and that was when he noticed the ring on his finger. “What the hell?”

“Did we get married last night?” How were those words even coming out of her mouth?

“You’re naked.” He frowned. “I’m naked. We’re both naked.”

She could see that he was naked from the waist up, but she’d really been hoping against hope he had pants on under that sheet.

At least they were in her room, she thought, so she was saved a walk of shame through the hotel. John would have that pleasure this morning. But a small, wilted bouquet on the desk caught her eye, and the desire to throw this man out of her room took a backseat to her growing horror. Even from the bed, she could see there were papers next to it that hadn’t been on the desk when she left the room to go down for dinner yesterday.

Please don’t let that be a marriage certificate.

“I don’t understand how I got here,” John said, and she told herself she was imagining the hint of accusation in his voice.

Even hungover and confused, he had to know that no matter how desperate Chelsea was to get a man so drunk he’d fall naked into her bed, he would be the very last person she would choose. She didn’t even like living in the same town as John Fletcher.

“Okay, let’s talk this out,” she said, trying to sound calm even though she was one hundred percent freaking out on the inside. “We had dinner and drinks with Molly and Callan.”

“Too many drinks on not enough food after too long a flight.”

“Then they went up to their room and we sat in awkward silence for a while because they were fixing an error on my bill and you wouldn’t leave me by myself. And we drank more because what else is there to do when you’re stuck with somebody you don’t want to talk to?”

He rolled his eyes at her tone, but nodded. “And then we decided to call a truce for the sake of their wedding.”

“I remember that. And the shot to seal the deal.” She wasn’t much of a drinker, and it was the first time she’d ever done a tequila shot. And that one hadn’t been the last. “And then I think we did more shots.”

“Neither of us knew how Las Vegas wedding chapels work, so we decided to go check it out. I think. It’s pretty fuzzy.”

“Very fuzzy. But maybe we did…like a rehearsal. A dress rehearsal, complete with wedding bands.”

“With flowers?” he asked, nodding his head toward the desk.

“I don’t know what those papers are next to the flowers,” she admitted.

“You should go look.”

She shook her head, clutching the sheet tighter. “I’m naked. You go.”

“I’m naked, too.” He flopped back onto the pillow. “I don’t think it was a dress rehearsal. It’s a blur, but I’m pretty sure we got married last night and then came back here and, uh…consummated the marriage.”

Well, they were both naked. And as he spoke, memories flashed through her mind—her hands on his back, his mouth on her breast, her back arching as she gasped his name—leaving little doubt they’d definitely consummated the marriage.

It wouldn’t be easy, but she could probably reconcile her dislike of John Fletcher with an alcohol-fueled one-night stand. A woman had needs, after all, and hers had been ignored for a long time. But marrying him? Yesterday she would have bet everything she owned there wasn’t enough booze in the city.

Then the clock caught her eye and she almost leaped out of the bed before remembering she wasn’t wearing pajamas. “We’re going to be late to breakfast.”

Molly had a full day planned leading up to their ceremony, and the last thing she’d told them before Callan pulled her away from the table was to not be late meeting them at the breakfast buffet.

“I think they’ll understand,” he said in a droll way that made her want to kick him.

“We’re not raining on her wedding-day parade, so we’re not going to be late to breakfast and we’re definitely not going to tell them what happened the first time we were left alone without supervision. I’m closing my eyes, so get dressed. Quickly.”

The mattress dipped as John slid out of her bed, and she listened to him hunting for and putting on yesterday’s clothes. She was tempted to peek, but she resisted and kept her eyes closed until she heard the rustle of papers. John was reading the documents from the table.

“It’s official. We got married last night.” He tossed the papers next to the dying flowers and looked at her, his brow creased with confusion. “But I don’t even like you.”

“I don’t like you, either, but here we are. We’ll get it annulled, but right now you have to go back to your room and change your clothes in a hurry. And I need to get dressed.” When he started toward the door, she caught sight of his hand. “Wait! Take off Callan’s ring.”


Anxiety knotted her stomach. “We have to tell them we got married.”

“No, you were right the first time,” he said grimly. “This day is about them and there’s no reason to distract from it with our bad decisions.”

“We can’t not tell them we got married with their rings.” She twisted Molly’s ring off her finger. “What kind of friend would I be if I let Molly get married with a used wedding ring? That has to be bad luck, right?”

“We only wore them for a few hours, and they certainly don’t mean anything.”

“Even more reason for them not to represent Molly and Callan’s love for the rest of their lives. Leave me Callan’s and I’ll sneak away at some point and find new ones the same size. Then they’ll never need to know.” Her credit card would know. This trip hadn’t been in her budget, but she rarely used her emergency card and she’d told herself she deserved it. Plus, she didn’t want to disappoint Molly. But jewelry was pushing the limit—literally. “If they do notice, I’ll say I lost them and didn’t want to tell her. And you can pay me back for half the cost.”

“Okay.” He set the ring on top of the marriage certificate. “So we’re agreed that nobody is ever going to find out about this.”

“It’s probably the first thing we’ve ever agreed on.

His mouth quirked up for a second. “Not the first thing, I guess.”

Chelsea was still processing the fact he’d made a joke when he bent and picked up something off the floor near the foot of the bed. When he stood straight and tossed her phone onto the mattress near her, she winced and reached for it—careful not to let the covers slip. When she tapped the screen, the low battery warning popped up. She’d be lucky to get through breakfast before her phone was dead.

It took some doing, but she managed to snatch her charging cord and plug in the phone without flashing her breasts. She almost dropped the covers, though, when she saw the number of notifications her messaging, Facebook and Instagram apps were showing. To say there were a lot was an understatement.

Judging by the blistering streak of curses from John, his phone also still had juice. “Callan wants to know who served as my best man.”

“Oh, no. No, no, no,” Chelsea muttered as she opened the Facebook app and followed the notifications straight to the Perkin’ Up Café’s page.

She’d posted a photo of them in the chapel. She didn’t know who had taken it, so maybe she’d asked somebody to take it with her phone. Or maybe one of them had paid for a photographer. With a wince, she added checking her credit card statement to her mental task list.

In the photograph, John had his arm around her waist and was bending her back slightly as he kissed her. He was wearing shorts and a short-sleeved button-down shirt in deference to the heat in Nevada, and she was wearing her sinfully red dress that hugged her curves, with strappy sandals that showed off the matching red polish on her toes. Her cloud of blond hair had started the night in a neat bun on top of her head, but by picture time, wisps of hair were escaping and she looked mussed. She was holding the bouquet in the air with one foot lifted, and even though their mouths were touching, they were both smiling. They looked like the happiest, most in love couple she’d ever seen.

Forget shots—no more tequila, period. Ever. Not even in a mixed drink.

How hot is my new husband? Happy wedding day to meeeeeee!!!

The caption would have made her laugh if the hot husband in question wasn’t currently glaring at her as if this was all her fault.

Then she pulled up her Instagram account and found the same photo and caption, along with bonus hashtags.

#HotHusband #JustMarried #VegasBride #WeddingNightTime #NoBlushingForThisBride #UpAllNight #TequilaToastToTheBrideAndGroom #PerkinUpCafe #FletcherDigitalRestorationandDesign

Her headache got fifty percent worse.

“Hashtag no blushing for this bride?” John asked, giving her a look that made her want to pull the covers up over her head.

“I thought I blocked you from my Instagram because you’re a jerk.”

“I wouldn’t know since I’ve never tried to see your Instagram, but Callan sent me a screenshot.”

“I’m blocking him, too.”

He snorted. “Too bad you didn’t block everybody in Stonefield before you announced we got married and were…how did you put it? Oh, up all night.”

“I hate you.”

“And yet you told everybody you know how hot I am.”

“Get out of my room.” She threw a pillow at him—his pillow, she thought—but he easily ducked it, and he was laughing when he left.


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