Let's get to the lip-lockin'!
Let's have a lookie-loo at what's in this magical piece of literary goodness known as the newsletter:
  1. Greetings and salutations
  2. Pact with a Heartbreaker, chapter 7
  3. Book + Main
  4. What even am I doing with my life? 
Hey, friend!
I can't believe it's the middle of July already. Where does the time go?! The first half of the summer always flies by like this for me, though, and then the month of August is just there. Being hot and unmovable. 
I've got a couple more trips planned before September, so I'm going to be a busy bee. Are you going anywhere fun for vacation?
As a reminder, from now until early September, I'm releasing a beach read novella via weekly installments right here for free! Chapter 7 and the moment you may or may not have been waiting for is belowwwww!
Pact with a Heartbreaker can be read either as your first foray into Havenbrook, my fictional southern small town, or after you've read Second Chance Charmer because I'm crafty like that. 😉

In case you've missed any previous chapters, you can get caught up here. If you're not a fan of reading books in a serialized manner, Pact with a Heartbreaker will be released on its own sometime in the fall.
Quick disclaimer: in order to get these chapters to you every week, they are raw and unedited, so thank you for excusing any mistakes! 

Chapter 7

Lord almighty, it was hot out on the boat, and only part of that was thanks to the Mississippi sun. Mac’s entire body felt like it was a live wire. She’d given up attempting to hide the hard points of her nipples in her too-thin bathing suit top, and she didn’t even want to think about the state of her bottoms. Thankfully she still had on her shorts, because she wasn’t sure she’d be able to disguise her reaction to their day that’d been much more…intimate…than she’d expected. 

Which only further cemented her suspicion that what Hudson needed to tell her was about the two of them. 

She couldn’t concentrate on that now, though. If she did, she’d get lost in her thoughts and he’d beat her at their bet. And there was no freaking way she was kissing those fish.

Shifting in her seat, she shot a look over to Hudson who was focused on casting another line. Her skin was flushed and overheated. She needed a cold shower. She wasn’t gonna get that out here. Normally, she’d just jump in the lake, but they were already knee-deep in to their bet, and she wasn’t going to forfeit just to try to get control of her hormones. 

But what was better than an ice cold shower? Ice. Keeping a secure grip on her fishing rod with one hand, she ran a piece of ice from the cooler over her body with the other. The back of her neck, her cheeks, her collarbones. She used that whole damn thing until it was melted into nothing, and it hadn’t done jack shit. She was still worked up. Could still feel the energy humming between them, the hair on her arm closest to him standing up on end. 

She reached for another cube just as Hudson cleared his throat. “I don’t know about you, but I could use a swim right about now.”

Before she could respond—to his words, or the husky timbre of his voice—he’d already reeled in his line, set his pole aside, and dove headfirst into the lake. 

He surfaced, shaking the water out of his hair and pinning her with his gaze. “Time out on the bet.”

She should have argued with him—they both knew there weren’t time outs on their bets—but she was so desperate to get her body under control, she took this for the gift it was. 

After she’d reeled in her line and set her fishing rod inside the boat next to Hudson’s, she unbuttoned her shorts and slipped them down her legs, sneaking a peek at him as she did so. She’d never been more thankful for a pair of plastic sunglasses than she was in that moment, because they disguised her shocked reaction behind the tinted lenses. Shock because Hudson didn’t take his eyes off her as she removed the article of clothing. He tracked every inch that was revealed. And those eyes? They were full of hunger. His whole body was tight, his jaw tense and shoulders rigid. 

From her? Because of her?

She shook the thoughts from her head and dove into the lake, surfacing only a foot from where Hudson waded. “Better?” she asked.

He breathed out a husky laugh and shook his head. “Somehow this made it infinitely worse.”

They stared at each other without words, their legs brushing underwater every so often as they swam in place. She’d loved Hudson her whole life, it’d seemed—as her best friend and most loyal confident. But she’d been in love with him for years. During that time, she’d had to watch him date others—just as he’d done with her. And while, yes, she’d wanted him that entire time, she’d never had to fight herself so hard not to just…press against him. To wrap herself around him, hold him tightly to her, and fit him into the notch between her legs. 

She positively throbbed for him. And she was so tired of fighting it, she wasn’t sure she had the strength to do it much longer. 

But she needed to find the damn strength, because she wasn’t going to make a move like that—not when he had something so important to tell her. Not when it might come out organically. So instead, she cupped her hands along the surface of the water and pushed in his direction, sending a wave of water right into his face.

“Did that help?” She didn’t try very hard to keep the laughter out of her voice.

He stared at her for a moment, water dripping off the tip of his nose and his chin. “I hope you know you’re gonna pay for that.”

With a squeal, she dipped underwater and swam in the opposite direction as far and as fast as she could, hoping to get away from his revenge. She emerged from the water and looked around. She was maybe fifty feet from the boat, but she couldn’t see Hudson anywhere. Had she actually gotten away from—

“Nice try,” he whispered in her ear right before he wrapped his arms around her, held her against him for the shortest moment of her life, and then hefted her out of the water and tossed her to the side. 

In their world, that meant game on. 

After who knew how long, they’d both been dunked, tossed—okay, she’d attempted to toss him and all that’d done was make both of them fall into a fit of laughter—and soaked. This was where they were most comfortable—this content place somewhere between playful and intimate. They’d always been physically affectionate toward each other, certainly more so than she was with any of her other guy friends. And, from what she’d seen, it was the same for Hudson. 

Because of that, it was totally in the realm of normal that he help her into the boat once they were ready to get out. He’d done it a hundred times before, and while she certainly hadn’t been immune to his hands on her, she’d never before felt this…electricity between them. She’d never felt such awareness of his body in relation to hers. How his chest brushed her back as she pulled herself up the side of the boat, the curve of her ass running along the front of him. To give her a boost, he wrapped his hands around her upper thighs, right below her bottom, his thumbs tucked between her legs. They were so close to where she ached for him, she was sure if she shifted the tiniest bit, he’d slide right beneath her bikini bottoms and find out exactly how much he’d affected her today.

Her throat was so tight, she couldn’t even manage a thank you as she climbed over the side of the boat. And even though she knew she probably shouldn’t—Lord knew she didn’t need any more kindling on the fire burning inside her—she looked back at him as he pulled himself up. His biceps bunched and flexed as he climbed over the side, rivulets of water cascading down his perfectly defined chest. Every muscle in his torso appeared to be cut from stone, tiny droplets of water trailing over each ridge before getting stuck in the valleys between. 

Lord help her, if she didn’t look away, she wasn’t sure she could stop herself from just…licking all of them.

Twisting around, she pulled the towels from the bag and handed one to Hudson, careful to keep her gaze averted. While she was hopeful about what he had to talk to her about, she also didn’t want to make a fool of herself and ruin the best friendship she’d ever had—the best one she could ever hope for.

 They didn’t say a word as they both dried off and got settled again, casting out their lines and restarting the clock. 

After minutes of nothing but the sound of the water, Hudson said, “Time’s almost up.” He tipped his chin toward the basket hanging off the side of the boat that contained her caught fish. “How you doin’ over there?”

Though her body still buzzed with desire, Mac snorted. “Better than you.”

“Awful cocky for someone who’s about to kiss four fish right on the lips.”

Four? Oh, he was so gonna lose. She already had five in her basket, with almost ten minutes to try and catch another. Still, she beat down the smug smile threatening to break through so as not to tip him off. Winning by only one wasn’t enough of a margin for her, and she didn’t want to give him an advantage to tip that in his favor.

“Just remember you brought this on yourself, Kenna.”

She looked over at him and traced his profile and the line of his jaw with her eyes. Wishing like hell she could reach out and run her fingertips along it. “You’re the only one who calls me that, you know.”


She nodded, sliding her attention back to the bobber floating in the water. The bare skin of Hudson’s arm brushed against hers as he shrugged. Trying to hold back the goosebumps was futile. 

“Everyone calls you Mac.” He turned to her, staring until she twisted and returned his gaze. “I don’t want to be like everyone else with you. Never did.”

She held her breath. Just…stopped breathing entirely, not wanting to interrupt the moment with a silly thing like air. Tension simmered between them, and it only increased when his eyes dropped to her lips. 

They were close. So close. All it would take was the subtlest lean from either of them and they’d be kissing. She wanted that, more than she could remember wanting anything. She wanted to feel the softness of his mouth contrasting with the coarse whiskers from his stubbled jaw. Wanted his hands tangled in her hair, tugging her closer to him, keeping her right where he needed her to be. Wanted to abandon her fishing rod and straddle him on the bench. Press her breasts into his bare chest as she wrapped her arms around him, ground down against him, and— 

Her line tugged, the bobber dipping under the water. It might as well have been a bucket of ice water dumped over her head. She jerked and shook off the daze of lust that had swept over her and got to work bringing in her last fish.  

By the time she had it tossed it in her basket, their two hours were up, and Hudson hadn’t caught another. 

“All right, big man.” Mac pulled up her basket and counted each fish aloud. “That’s six, baby. You ready to kiss some fish?”

“Now, just wait a minute.” Hudson lifted his basket. “I miscounted. I have five.”

“Umm…you need to go back to kindergarten and take a refresher? Last time I checked, six was definitely more than five.”

“But mine are bigger than yours, so they should count for more.”

She dropped her mouth open and let out a disbelieving laugh. “You cannot be serious.”

He just shrugged in response which only infuriated her more. 

“Nope,” she said with a decisive shake of her head. “No way. The bet was for whoever catches the most fish.”

“Ah, but do you define most by weight or number?”

“Obviously number, you jackass!” She shoved him in his chest, too mad to allow the feel of his heated, bare skin to affect her. Much. “You’re just tryin’ to figure out a way to get out of kissin’ all these fish.”

“I just don’t see why you should be the default winner if mine weigh more, that’s all I’m sayin’.” He shrugged. “If you can’t agree with that, maybe we should call it a tie.”

“A tie? A tie?” She planted her hands on her hips and faced him with a glare. “We don’t do ties. We do winner and loser—this isn’t new, Hudson. I’m not allowin’ you to suddenly change the rules as you see fit after almost fifteen years just because you’re a sore loser, you loser.” She shoved him again, this weird mix of desire and irritation bubbling inside her. “And I’m not leavin’ this lake until you pucker up.”

One minute, they were staring at each other in challenge, and the next, he wrapped his hand around her neck, tugged her toward him, and pressed his lips to hers. 


I know, I know. I'm an evil bastard. Want a place to talk about the latest chapter of Pact with a Heartbreaker? Join my reader group, the Brigade! Gossip on all things Havenbrook is welcomed and encouraged.

Are you a member of Book + Main? I've got an account over there, but I've been really bad about utilizing it. I was contemplating putting teasers to the following week's chapter on there, but before I invest that time, I want to know if you are over there!

Shoot me a reply and let me know!

My boys are home! And, in eleven days, I'd somehow forgotten exactly how little I can get done on any given day with them here. LOL It certainly hasn't been boring, though. And I've finally gotten the snuggles I was craving.

I'm also in prep mode for RWA, the largest national conference for romance writers. It's my favorite conference every year, and the one I've only missed once since I started on this crazy writing journey. I'm looking forward to seeing friends I haven't seen in a year or more, hanging out with like-minded peeps, and refilling the well.


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