The Maverick's Red Hot Reunion  (10)

By: Christine Glover

Michael sighed. “She wanted to come to Italy, but got bogged down with her work.”

“It’s not like Hannah to put her job before family.” Not only that, but Kennedy hadn’t gotten more than a Sorry, gotta run, or super busy, try later from Hannah for months whenever she’d texted or private messaged her on Facebook. That had royally ticked her off. Still, Kennedy promised herself to reach out again, because something wasn’t right about Hannah choosing her career in Los Angeles over seeing her older brother. “I’ll call her.”


Michael’s father and his famous brother-in-law, Blake Johnston, stepped into view and waved, towels in hand. His mother, Shannon, hovered in the Tuscan kitchen, opening the fridge and drawing out a pitcher filled with lemonade while she and Zach continued talking, bantering back and forth with Michael. It was just as if they were sitting in the same room and not separated by an ocean and a six hour time difference.

Kennedy watched Shannon pour a glass and pop a straw into it, then she moved closer into view. After she placed the drink in front of Michael, she asked, “Do your parents know about your new sleeping arrangements?”

“There’s nothing to tell,” Kennedy answered, sending a mini prayer of thanks to the Gods of the Vacation Cruise Line that had interrupted cellular service and provided virtually no Internet.

“When do they dock?” Shannon asked, then lifted the glass for Michael to take a drink.

“Next month.” Kennedy shifted away from Zach’s side. No point in giving Michael’s mother any reason to be hitting speed dial on her cell phone with the latest gossip. Hell, no point in giving her body any more reason to cry uncle and cave to the thrilling sensation racing through her veins. “I’m calling Mom as soon as they return.”

“If you don’t, I will,” Shannon said. “Because you two are looking awfully cozy.”

“We’re just working together,” Kennedy said as Shannon stepped away and faded from view.

“Just like the good old days,” Michael said.

Beside her, Zach inhaled a sharp breath. She could feel his grief as if it were palpable. Her own sadness threatened to burst through her internal blockade. Kennedy reached under the table and took Zach’s hand, squeezing it. They glanced at each other and something beyond their attraction and their grievances about the past connected them.

Whatever happened between them during the resort’s renovation, she and Zach had one thing in common. Their love for Michael. As long as Michael was happy, they would do whatever was necessary to get along.

As they ended their Skype call, she recognized the longing for connection in Zach’s good-byes to the entire Sullivan family. And Kennedy promised herself that she’d do anything to keep their relationship strictly friendly despite her heart and body desperately craving so much more.

Chapter Three

During the next four days, Kennedy tried to avoid being alone with Zach by clocking out late and starting work early. Though the hours were grueling, she was pleased with how quickly her plans for the renovation were taking shape. Unfortunately, Zach had an innate ability to time his exits and entrances into the lodge to match hers, and that made for some very uncomfortable sleepless nights when the desire to yield to her temptation warred with her good sense to stay strong.

As they had every morning, her construction crews circled her, waiting for their orders. Bright leaves, golden and red and burgundy, swayed in the autumn breeze. Some had drifted to the ground, still fully hued, but beginning to take on sepia tones along their edges. The rustling in the branches lulled her. But Kennedy finished outlining the day’s work orders with a firm tone. “Caleb, here are the resort’s design plan modifications. After we finish our morning talking points, take five of my crew and finish stripping the old wallpaper. We’ll demo the rest of the wing tomorrow,” she said and hid a yawn behind her hand.

“You okay?” Caleb asked.

She let the early morning sunshine caress her cheeks. “Not sleeping well, but I’ll survive.”

“Zach’s not being a dick, is he?” he asked.