Chapter 10, here we come!
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 10
  3. Book pimpin' with a bad boys gone good 99¢ read!
  4. What even am I doing with my life? 
Hey there, friend!
These weeks keep whipping by like crazy. It's August already, and though we still have a month of summer break left, it feels like it's almost gone. As much as I'm sad to see summer go, September brings cooler weather, boots, jeans, and daily schedules!
As a reminder, from now until early September, I'm releasing a beach read novella via weekly installments right here for free! Chapter ten is below, so keep scrollin'!
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 10

“Take me back,” Mac said through clenched teeth. Tears pricked the back of her eyes, her throat tight from holding them back. Not from sadness—although that was swirling somewhere in the vortex of her emotions—but from anger. She was so damn mad at him she couldn’t see straight.

“Kenna, I know this—”

“Take me back right now, Hudson Miller, or I swear to God, I’ll jump overboard and swim back.”

He reached for her, but she jerked away, avoiding his touch. She couldn’t handle it. Not now. 

“Tell me what you’re thinkin’,” he said. “Please. It’s killin’ me.”

Oh, it was killing him, was it? He wasn’t aware of her thoughts for a grand total of one-hundred and eighty seconds, and it was killing him? Meanwhile, she’d been kept in the dark for months?

“Too damn bad,” she snapped. “Apparently we don’t tell each other everything we’re thinkin’, so you’re just gonna have to wait. Now start the motor.”

He opened his mouth, no doubt to reply, but instead he gave her a once over. Yeah, she could imagine what she looked like. Cheeks bright red, though no longer from arousal, arms crossed against her chest to cover up the parts of her that still perked up at his presence, and a red hot glare directed solely at him. 

With a dip of his chin, he started the engine and directed them back toward the cabin. The hum of the motor drowned out any talking they could do, but that was just fine for her. She didn’t have a whole hell of a lot to say to that lying ass. And, yes, he was a liar—there was no damn way he was getting off on a technicality. True, he’d never specifically told her he wasn’t enlisting in the Army, but she’d never asked. Why would she? They’d made plans—plans she’d been counting on and looking forward to for two years. And those plans most certainly hadn’t included him putting his life on the line. They hadn’t included him leaving her. 

The urge to get away from him crept up her spine and latched on to her throat like fingers tightening in a vise. She was about to lose it, the tears collecting in her eyes threatening to spill over at any second, and she’d be damned if she did it in front of him. 

Hudson slowed the motor as he guided them toward land. As soon as they were close enough to the dock that Mac figured she could make it with a hard enough jump, she stood up inside the boat and leapt. 

“Kenna! What the f—”

She ignored him and didn’t look back. Instead, she sprinted up the hill toward the cabin, bypassing the hammock and yard games set up, and stormed inside. She swiped at the tears running down her cheeks, hating that she cried whenever she was angry.  

Except she wasn’t just angry. She was devastated. 

That thought tore a sob from her throat, and she glanced down toward the lake. Hudson tied up the boat with impressive speed, his gaze cutting up toward the cabin every few seconds, his jaw tight. She didn’t have much time before he’d be in the house and in her space, demanding she talk to him. And if she talked to him in that moment, she knew without doubt she’d say things she’d regret. 

She needed to get the hell out of there. 

Without pausing for second thoughts, she snatched his keys off the counter, grabbed her purse, and flew out the door. She tossed her purse into the passenger’s seat and slammed the door on his truck, revving the engine before shifting in to drive and peeling out.

Through tear-filled eyes, she watched in the rearview mirror as Hudson ran toward her. 

“Kenna, wait!” he yelled, his voice filtering in through the open windows, and that just made her cry harder. Made her push her foot harder on the gas pedal.

She had no idea where she was going. She just knew she had to get as far away from Hudson Miller as she could.




Mac’s tears hadn’t abated by the time she pulled off the side of a backroad twenty minutes later. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d cried this hard—hell, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d cried, period. But when your life-long best friend smashed all your plans and broke your heart in one fell swoop, all bets were off. 

She threw the truck into park and rested her forehead on the steering wheel. Her heart ached. Actually, physically ached. She’d had everything she’d ever wanted within her reach, and—just like that—it was snatched away. 

That thought made the anger inside her boil once again, and she bolted upright and snatched her purse from the passenger’s seat. She riffled through the contents in search of her phone. When she found it, she held it up, glancing at the bars in the top corner. Two. She only hoped it was enough to get through. She needed to vent, needed to yell at someone. Needed to have someone tell her why

The phone rang three times before her sister picked up. “Hello?”


“Mac? Hey. Wait, what’s wrong? Why do you sound all—”

“He’s leavin’,” she croaked, her throat raspy from crying.

“What? Who’s leavin’?”

Mac swallowed, her eyes burning. “Hudson.”

“Wait…I’m confused. He left you at the cabin? That doesn’t sound like him. I’m sure he’ll—”

“No!” she yelled. “He’s leavin’, Will. Me. Havenbrook. State. All of it.”

“Leavin’?” Will asked, her voice ringing with confusion. “To do what?”

Mac wished she’d driven the two hours to Starkville so she could have this conversation in person. She needed to be in Willow’s grounding presence. Rest her head on her sister’s shoulder as Willow assured her everything was going to be all right. Because right now, Mac couldn’t see how. 

The words sat bitter on Mac’s tongue—words she never thought she’d utter. She cleared her throat, ignoring the tears pooling again in her eyes. “He’s enlisting.”

Willow’s sharp inhale carried through the phone as clearly as if she were sitting next to her. She knew as well as everyone else in town exactly why Hudson hadn’t enlisted in the first place. Mac wasn’t sure there was a soul old enough in Havenbrook who didn’t remember the day the Millers had been notified of Jack’s death. It’d changed so much for their family. Had changed nearly everything.

Although it’d never been able to change who Hudson truly was. 

“And he didn’t tell you?” Will asked. Her voice was calm and clear, no outrage to be found. No shock, no indignation. Just gentleness.

“Why aren’t you surprised by this?”

Will was silent for a couple moments. Finally, she said, “I think the better question is, why are you?”

Mac’s spine straightened, her shoulders going rigid. “What the hell is that supposed to mean? Why wouldn’t I be surprised? We had plans, Will. He was supposed to come with me. And today—” She cut herself off, something in her not wanting to tell her sister exactly what had gone down in the boat. Not yet. She had no idea how to reconcile the pure elation she’d felt at finally having Hudson with the devastation that sat heavily in the pit of her stomach.

Will gave a bitter laugh. “Believe me, I know all about broken plans.”

Mac squeezed her eyes shut, wincing at the harsh tone of her sister’s voice. Of course she’d know exactly what Mac was feeling. Will had gone through it not long ago. Except, at least, Hudson had given Mac the courtesy of a goodbye—something she couldn’t say for Will’s no good, bailing ex-boyfriend.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t—”

“What I mean,” Will interrupted, “is that you know Hudson better than anyone else.” She paused. “Is this really out of the realm of something he’d do?”

A flip-book of memories spun through Mac’s mind, a collection of the times they’d spent together in the decade-plus they’d been friends. They’d both been adventurous, even from a young age. It’d been what had linked them together in the first place. Hiking, climbing trees, cliff diving. They’d done everything that was legal—and a few that weren’t—just to see if they could. Because something called to both of them, that thrill they got each time—when they’d climbed to the top of the tallest tree, those moments of free-fall off a cliff, or flying through fields on a two-wheeler. 

But it was so much more than just his adventurous side. He’d carried the weight of the world on his shoulders for as long as she’d known him, needing to make sure his loved ones were safe and happy. Taking the Man of the House moniker to whole new levels. He held himself up to ridiculous standards, especially the one perched atop in utmost importance—to be the hero his daddy had been. 

Of course he was enlisting. Of course he was going off to fight for his country. It was all he’d known, all he’d dreamed of. It was in his blood. His daddy losing his life had never been a deterrent for Hudson—he’d always seen it as part of the sacrifice. 

And if there was one thing she knew about him, it was that he’d sacrifice everything if it meant those he loved would have better lives because of it. He was born to do exactly this, and she’d been a fool to think he’d have been satisfied doing anything else.

“I don’t want to let him go,” Mac whispered, tears spilling over on to her cheeks. “I don’t know how.”

But she needed to figure it out, and fast. Because she didn’t have a choice.



I'm woman enough to admit I got a little sniffly writing this chapter. Oh, the delicious heartache. Don't forget to pop over to my reader group, the Brigade to discuss this chapter! Gossip on all things Havenbrook is welcomed and encouraged.

Who doesn't like books on sale?? And bad boys gone good are one of my favorites. Snatch this baby up for only 99¢!

USA Today bestseller Christi Barth returns with another steamy Bad Boys Gone Good novel!

Flynn Maguire isn’t really a bad guy. Sure, he worked for the mob, but he ran a legitimate business—on paper anyway—and it paid enough to keep his brother out of the lifestyle. Until they turned on him. Now he’s stuck in Witness Protection, tending bar in Nowheresville Oregon… and pissed the life he knew is gone. The only bright spot? Fantasizing about his quiet, secretive, beautiful coworker.

Sierra Williams is a woman on the run. All she wants now is to settle into small town life… and ignore the brooding, sexy bartender who can’t seem to take his eyes off her. Flynn’s bad-boy vibe pushes all her buttons, but Sierra fell for the wrong man once already. She can’t afford to let her guard down again. Except Flynn’s tough exterior is slowly melting away to reveal the sweet man beneath and their attraction is too strong to resist.

Sierra and Flynn are falling fast, but they’re both keeping so many secrets. The truth could ruin everything… unless a girl who’s a little bad is perfect for a guy who’s never really been good.

Amazon  |  iBooks  |  Kobo  |  Nook

Last week, my oldest got his braces off and suddenly transformed into a twenty-year-old. (He's thirteen, for the record...fourteen in a couple weeks.) So there I was, sitting in the orthodontist's parking lot, staring at a picture they'd just taken of this man child sans braces, when said man child accuses, "ARE YOU CRYING? God, Mom, it's not a big deal." (I was not crying. It was very dusty.)

My youngest spent this week in art camp—it's one we've done every summer for the past five years or so. Tonight, they celebrate the culmination of it with an art show, and he's pretty proud of his creations. After that, the kiddos are off to the grandparents' house for the night, and hubs and I are partying hard. And by partying hard, I mean it's Five Guys for dinner followed by Equalizer 2. #24hourpartyperson

What are you up to this weekend?


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