The Maverick's Red Hot Reunion  (5)

By: Christine Glover

He toured the rest of the lodge with Kennedy, careful to keep the conversation focused on the property’s renovation. When they’d completed inspecting the interior, she walked with him to his motorcycle.

She wouldn’t meet his gaze. “Anything else you want to look at?” she asked.

He heard the hesitation in her voice. Something fierce snapped inside him. Old hurts, long suppressed, along with his desire, resurfaced. Damn it all to hell and back. He didn’t want to feel anything for Kennedy. But he did. And that scared the shit out of him.

He snagged his helmet off the handlebar. “I want to ride to the springs before the light fades.”

She blinked, stepping back. “Why?”

When he’d bought Sweetbriar Springs to salvage Michael’s dream, he had believed he would be working with Kennedy’s father. He’d also believed he’d moved on, grabbed the life he deserved at the helm of his father’s corporation. But he hadn’t. “I want them operational by December.” And he wanted to get her out of his system once and for all.

“There’s not enough time or manpower.”

“Michael wants to hold an ALS fundraiser here.”

“I’ll hire more people.”

“I’ll take care of it.”

“I know how to wield more than a hammer, Tanner.” Her nostrils flared and her voice raised a notch. “Got my MBA after you left Sweetbriar. Tanner Enterprises may own Sweetbriar Springs, but I don’t need you to take charge of the day-to-day operations.”

“Good to know.” Nor did he care to argue the point. But he sure as hell planned to take care of the night shift once Kennedy admitted she still wanted him. He brought out his spare helmet. “Let’s ride.”

Kennedy’s heart thumped in her ribcage. Zach’s dark eyes challenged her, dared her to say no. But she had grown up in a world filled with boys and men. She’d learned how to hide her fear and feign courage.

She could certainly handle one angry ex-fiancé.

She grabbed the helmet and secured it.

He climbed on to the V-rod’s seat, then pointed to the leather seat behind him. She settled into the spot and coiled her arms around his waist.

“Hang on,” he said.

The engine vibrated between her legs. She tightened her hold and tucked her head against his broad back. He drove through the gates and onto the highway. She leaned as he banked a curve. The years melted away. Easily she slipped back into the routine of riding with him.

Wind whipped her exposed strands of hair, but with no cars in sight, he accelerated. Her thighs ached as she gripped the machine for added support. Zach had always been a hard, strong male made for speed.

For ownership.

For possession.

Possession she remembered.

Heat spiraled low in her belly, flamed through her insides, and branded her with a painful longing. She’d forgotten how wonderful the freedom of life had been with Zach. The stolen kisses between work shifts during their summer jobs at the resort, the one-tank motorcycle trips on days off, the late night picnics followed by intense lovemaking beside the springs. The very springs where they were now headed.

She hadn’t known how much she missed him until he returned. And for all her misguided good intentions five years ago, if he wanted to claim her again, she’d allow him to.

If only to have one more memory to carry in her heart.

Kennedy relaxed her hold when Zach zoomed down a long stretch of straight, paved freeway. Leaves, dipped in gold and burnished a bright crimson, decorated the trees in gorgeous hues. They climbed higher, and she could see the Blue Ridge Mountain ranges with their streaks of evergreen cutting into the oranges and yellows and russets. Umber tones quilted the dips and valleys in the mountainsides.

The air smelled of moss and plant life slowly readying for winter. She caught sight of a stag with a large rack of antlers before he jumped deep into the forest.

Zach exited onto a side road, smaller, almost a secret. His back was rigid, strong against her cheek, but his motorcycle jacket caressed her skin. She inhaled his familiar, soothing scent of leather and tantalizing male.

This was her Sweetbriar. Her history. Her future.