Ship Happens – Love at Sea Book 1 by Kate Stacy


Ship Happens: A Friends with Benefits Romance
Love at Sea Book 1
By
Kate Stacy

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Tate

Macy Carmichael has been my friend with mind-blowing benefits for a long time now. But, I’ve been craving more from her. More than she’s ready to give.

When my siblings book me on an all-inclusive cruise, I jump at the idea of a free vacation and a chance to get away for a while. Unfortunately, my meddling older sister left out a few important details—like the name of the cruise. Love at Sea. Is she for real?

If that’s not bad enough, she signed me up for a variety of activities and makes me promise that I’ll take part in every single one. She also failed to mention that she convinced Macy to book the same cruise.

Imagine my surprise when she sits down across the table from me during the speed dating event I didn’t even want to attend. All bets are off. I’ll be damned if some other man is getting close to what’s mine.

Macy

Desperate for a vacation and break from everyday life, I take the suggestion of one aclose friends and book myself a week-long cruise. I even go along with her recommendation.

The Love at Sea cruise aboard the Heart of the Deep. It doesn’t sound like a bad idea, even if the whole cruise is based around the finding and celebrating love.

But when my best friend with toe-curling benefits, Tate Thorne, shows up during the speed dating event, I know I’m in trouble. No matter what I do, it always comes back to him.

Maybe away from the hustle and bustle of our small town, we can finally explore something more. That is, if I can finally let go of all the “rules” of our previous arrangement.

Tate is really looking forward to this week long cruise. It’s his first vacation in too many years and it;s a gift from his siblings. At the moment he only regrets not having the time to explore New Orleans before boarding the ship. His sister Taryn took care of everything from online check-in to activities and excursions. It’s as he completes check and is welcomed by crew that he realizes what those siblings have done. It’s the Love at Sea cruise, he wasn’t going to thank Taryn now he’s going to kill her for this. Even though all his siblings were in on it, Taryn is obviously the ringleader and will face his wrath. The thing is Tate doesn’t want to find someone new, he wants to change his relationship with Macy, his longtime friend with benefits.

Macy drove to New Orleans and getting stuck in traffic has brought her really close to her scheduled arrival time. Fortunately, she’s able to check her bags so running to check-in isn’t too bad. She’s now hot, sweaty, annoyed and in need of a drink. So that’s where she heads first. As she wanders around the deck she falls in love with the ambiance. She really has to thank her friend Taryn for telling her about this cruise. It’s just what she needs, starting with pampering all day the first day at sea.

Tate discovers he’s signed up for Speed Dating at dinner that first night and since he promised to do all the activities Taryn signed him up for, he resigns himself to going.
Macy, on the other hand, is looking forward to it. She’s sure she’s not going to find that perfect someone, but she can enjoy herself in the process.

Ah, the speed dating, I laughed out loud even before Macy and Tate meet up.

This is a favorite scene.

Jenna signals for the women to change tables, and it occurs to me that he has no date this round.

“Sorry, man. I pissed off your date for this round.”

“I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing.” I don’t have time to respond because my next date has joined me.

This one goes better than the first. Her name is Jill, and we actually have a few things in common. If I were serious about this whole speed dating thing, I’d probably check her box. I don’t know if she feels the same about me, but it doesn’t matter.

After a few more dates with women who leave me desperate to escape, a familiar face takes the seat across the table.

“I recognize you,” I tell her.

“Do you?” she asks, tilting her head.

“I saw you at check-in before we boarded the ship.”

“Oh, my god.” She covers her face with her hands and laughs. “I’m so embarrassed.”

“Don’t be. I promised myself if I saw you again, I’d introduce myself so we could commiserate together. You weren’t the only one who had no idea this was a love-themed cruise.”

“Seriously?”

“Unfortunately,” I admit. Holding out my hand, I fulfill my self-promise. “Hi, I’m Tate. My meddling older sister booked me on this cruise for reasons she doesn’t feel compelled to share but promises they’re good and swears I won’t be mad at her by the time it’s over.”

She laughs again. “I’m Courtney. That’s quite a story. Tell me more.”

Five minutes isn’t long enough when you’re talking to someone you actually want to have a conversation with. Courtney is beautiful and she has a great personality, but I’m not attracted to her. She’s not Macy. From my brief interaction with her, I can tell she’s gonna make some guy extremely happy, but I’m not that guy.

When our time is up, I wish her well before she moves to the next table. Curiosity strikes again when I see her narrow her eyes at the guy when she sits down. I can’t spend the entire night getting my kicks from this guy’s struggles with the women, so I turn to introduce myself to my next date.

“Don’t bother. You’re not my type,” she says, crossing her arms over her chest as she obnoxiously smacks her chewing gum.

I blink, unsure of how to respond.

Easy. I won’t.

Ignoring her, I watch the next table from the corner of my eye. The conversation between Courtney and the guy seems more serious than the one she had with me. I don’t try too hard to listen to what they’re saying. I’m mainly trying to avoid the uninterested woman across from me. The one who’s still smacking the damn gum in her mouth.

“Okay ladies,” Jenna calls out. “Time to move one. Blow your goodbye kisses and slip on over to the next table and the next lucky dater.”

I breathe out a sigh of relief.

I’m not sure how much more of this I can take.

I watch as Courtney stands, looks at the guy she’s supposed to “date” next and heads for the bar instead of his table. I almost follow her lead, dreading the knowledge that another woman is about to fill the empty seat across the table.

Will she be sweet like Courtney? A talker like Serena? Or will she have some weird shit hanging from her face that I have to try to politely ignore?

I’m almost afraid to find out.

Until I hear a voice as familiar as my own.

“Tate?”

I whip my head around and my gaze locks with her warm brown eyes.

“Macy?” I ask, not quite believing what I’m seeing right in front of me. This wouldn’t be the first time I imagined seeing her on the ship.

She drops into the chair, lips still parted with surprise.

“What—How—I mean—” Snapping her mouth shut, she closes her eyes and breathes in deep through her nose.

I’ve watched her center herself like this a million times before. Macy hates being flustered. I wait patiently rather than try to pepper her with questions. I have several, though I’m pretty sure I know the answer to most of them. Call it a hunch.

When she releases the breath she was holding, her eyes open slowly. She studies me for several seconds before attempting to speak again.

“How are we both here?” she asks.

“I might have an idea, but before I share, let me ask you a question.”

“Okay…”

“How’d you hear about this cruise?”

Her brows furrow. “Taryn told me about it. Why?”

Shaking my head, I chuckle. “I can’t believe her, but it makes a lot of sense now,” I say, more to myself than Macy.

“Care to share with the rest of the class?” she asks, crossing her arms over her chest.

“We’re both here because my meddling sister is trying to play matchmaker.”

“Why would she do that?”

“She’s been trying to set me up for years.”

“I know that,” she says, which is news to me. “But why me?”

“I don’t have an answer for that one.”

I could venture a guess or two, but I’d probably be wrong. One thing I do know is that I need to have another conversation with sister dearest. Either she’s running out of people to set me up with, or she knows way more about my private life than she lets on. She was right, though. It’s hard to be mad at her knowing she played puppet master to get both me and Macy on this cruise. The knowledge improves my mood considerably.

That is until I remember that Macy and I are both at a speed dating event.

Did Taryn sign her up for this too?

Or is she here because she wants to be?

Macy’s event card is lying face down on the table in front of her, taunting me.

How many boxes has she checked?

I shouldn’t care.

We’re friends.

We have rules.

Our situtionship doesn’t allow for the way my heart pounds in my chest, my body practically vibrating with jealousy when I think about her meeting some guy on this ship. Hooking up with him. Wanting more.

Damn it.

It was hard enough stepping back when things started getting serious between her and Zane. I’ve been pushing my feelings for her down for years now. I don’t want to do it anymore.

“Ready for your next date?” Jenna asks from the front of the room.

No.

Hell no.

Macy stands, ready to move on to the next guy.

When I also rise to my feet, her brows furrow, making the little spot above the bridge of her nose wrinkle. She’s cute as fuck.

I blame the alcohol for encouraging what I’m about to do.

“What are you doing, Tate?” she asks.

“Getting us out of here,” I tell her as I grab hold of her wrist and start walking toward the nearest exit.

There won’t be another guy.

Not unless it’s me.
Kate Stacy. Ship Happens (Kindle Locations 556-620). anonymous. Kindle Edition.

Now Tate does get away with pulling her out of speed dating and to a club. There they both start drinking and talking. Unfortunately for him, Macy insists on sleeping alone.

Tate’s consolation is that he’s pretty sure Taryn has him signed up for all the activities Macy is doing. It’s the Salsa lessons that will be a turning point and hopefully Tate can figure out how to let Macy know what he really wants.

I loved every activity and excursion we get to see these two on. They not only make new friends but their whole relationship begins to shift. The chemistry between Tate and Macy is off the charts and they truly sizzle off the pages.

I can’t wait to read the next book in this multi-author series.

5 Contented Purrs for Kate!

Coming Soon!

Kate Stacy

Author of emotionally-gripping, contemporary romance, Kate Stacy’s novels feature sassy heroines, swoony heroes, life, love, friendship, and all the angst. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family and friends in small-town North Carolina, Kate can most likely be found nose deep in her Kindle. She stays up too late, swears too much, and loves too hard.

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About The Love at Sea Series

Get ready to set sail through the Caribbean on Festival Cruises’ most alluring voyage with eight of your favorite authors – happily ever after guaranteed!

Experience everything the Love at Sea series has to offer. From speed dating to masquerades, guests are sure to enjoy the hot days and steamy nights. Explore hidden waterfalls, swim with dolphins, and watch as eight couples find their forever on the open ocean.

Each story features a brand new couple and a fun trope from our amazing line up of authors including: Kate Stacy, HM Thomas, Mari Sol, S.A. Clayton, T.L. Anderson, Karigan Hale, Susan Renee, and A.M. Williams.

This promotional event is brought to you by The Indie Pen PR

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