Nodding, he took Holly’s hand and led her away, needing to get the hell out of this damn carnival. Away from Mackenzie and her goddamn excuses. He didn’t look back, not even once, and when they were far enough away, he stopped walking and shot Holly an apologetic look.

“I shouldn’t have done that,” he said.

A devilish glint filled her green eyes. “Nope. Carson is going to kill you, you know.”

Will suppressed a groan. Oh, he knew all right. He’d be lucky if his friend didn’t skin him alive.

At least Holly seemed to take it well. She’d obviously recovered from that spontaneous kiss he’d launched at her, the flush gone from her cheeks and a wise look in her eyes. “You’re done, aren’t you?” she asked quietly.

“With Mac?” Pain stung his heart like a wasp. “I think so.”

They began to walk again, making their way through the crowd of happy, smiling people. They reached the edge of the lot, and instead of heading over to his Jeep, he led Holly across the street. “I need a drink,” he muttered.

“Me too.” Holly fanned her face. “Don’t tell Carson I said this, but you’re a damn good kisser, Charleston.”

He managed a grin. “Thanks.”

She frowned. “I wish you’d given me a heads up, though. I don’t kiss well under pressure.”

The grin turned into a laugh. “You did just fine.”

They reached the one and only bar in Hunter Ridge. A look through the window showed the place to be practically empty, and Will held open the door for Holly then followed her inside. He gave a polite smile to the waitress, who ushered them to a booth near the window. After they’d sat and ordered a couple of beers, Will looked at Holly and groaned.

“What would you do, if you were me?” He sighed. “Give up?”

She paused thoughtfully. “I’m not sure it’s possible to give up on love.”

“If Carson had put up a fight about being with you, would you have tried to force him to change his mind?”

“Yes, if I knew he loved me.” Holly gave a sheepish grin. “Actually, Carson and I were kind of in the same situation. I kept fighting the relationship, didn’t want to get seriously involved, and he kept pushing until I finally gave us a chance.”

“Are you glad he did?”

“Yes.” No hesitation in her tone. “If he hadn’t fought for us, we might not be together right now.”

Will ran a hand through his hair. “So you’re saying I should fight for her? Even when she’s determined to pretend she’s not in love with me?”

The waitress returned to deliver their drink order, and Holly lifted the beer bottle to her lips. “But you know it’s a lie, and she’ll admit it eventually. Because she does love you. You should’ve seen her face when the kiss ended. Sheer misery.”

His stomach clenched. He did not like knowing Mac had been in pain, and that he’d caused it.

“I didn’t see her trying to stop me,” he finally said, then took a long swig of his beer. His mouth lifted in a bitter smile. “She’s probably gone home by now, hiding in that farmhouse the way she’s done for years.”

Holly’s lips curved, her focus on the window behind Will. “I wouldn’t bet on it,” she murmured.

He quickly twisted around, his heart leaping when he spotted Mackenzie crossing the narrow street, each step she took heavy with determination. Her lush mouth was set in a firm line, her pale blue eyes flashing with what looked like fury.

Seconds later, she threw open the door and stormed into the bar.

“You’re an ass**le, Will Charleston!” Mackenzie flung the insult at him like a live grenade, her cheeks burning with anger.

He raised one brow. “Am I?”

Ignoring him, Mac turned her attention to Holly, who seemed to be fighting back a smile. “You should know that you’re dating an insensitive jerk.”

Holly echoed Will’s reply. “Am I?”

“Did he tell you he slept with me last week?” Mac demanded.

The bar grew quiet. The three patrons sitting by the long chrome counter immediately swiveled their heads in the direction of the booth. Even the waitress eyed them curiously.

But Mac was oblivious to the inquisitive stares, and that said a lot—she always cared way too much about what the people in town thought of her. “Will and I had sex last week,” Mac said, her gaze trained on the brunette. “Did you know that?”

“No,” Holly said with a shrug.

“Doesn’t that bother you?” Mackenzie snapped.

“Why should it?” Holly took a casual sip of her beer. “If it had meant anything, he’d be with you right now, not me.”

Will hid a smile. Holly was going all out, wasn’t she?

“It meant something!” Mac burst out. “It meant everything.”

Will was stunned to see her eyes fill up with tears. “Mackenzie—”

“No,” she interrupted. “I don’t want to listen to you anymore. I get it, you’re done with me. Fine. I’m done with you too, Will.”

She spun around and hurried out the door, the heels of her sexy leather boots clicking with each furious step.

“Go,” Holly said with a sigh.

Without a response, Will shot out of the booth and took off after Mackenzie. He caught up to her just as she reached her car. “Don’t even think about running off,” he ordered, digging his fingers into the sleeve of her shirt.