The Maverick's Red Hot Reunion  (6)

By: Christine Glover

And once she’d shared it all with Zach.

He cruised to a clearing, stopped the engine, and secured the bike. “Place is a mess,” he said after they’d climbed off and shed their helmets.

Kennedy stared at the rotting wood benches and the shattered glass windows in the cedar changing rooms. The jagged edges taunted her with their accusations of neglect. Steam rose from the springs, the mist a spectral reminder of better times.

A small chill crawled under her skin, tunneled deep inside her body, and coated her ribs with ice. She’d hunted for frogs and fought imaginary wars here with Michael. Buried a time capsule with him and Zach on New Year’s Eve.

A night when friendship had transformed into love between her and Zach.

Kennedy hugged her waist. “This is why I’ve concentrated on prepping the lodge and grounds,” she said. “This area will take an army to overhaul.”

“You’ll have it completed by midweek.” Zach leaped over a fallen tree, then knelt beside the swirling waters. “We’ll sell the legend, the hope, the mystique.”

“You never believed that hokey new-age stuff about the springs,” she said as she joined him.

“You got that right.” He scooped out branches, twigs, and leaves. “I believe in making money.”

His profile was a mask, rock hard and stony, but his voice had a rough, gravelly edge undercutting his claim. Zach had changed into a calculating man for one reason. Her.

A knot formed in her throat. She swallowed and her sadness scraped along the inside edges, burning. Once she’d had the power to comfort Zach, reach his heart.

Now? No illusions clouded her thoughts. The less time they spent revisiting old memories and the more time they devoted to the renovation, the sooner they’d part company.

“We should leave before it gets dark,” she said.

“You’re right.” He stood, then pulled her up. “I want to stow my gear in the lodge.”

She tried to tug free. “Aren’t you commuting from Asheville?”

“Takes too long.” He held her hand captive in his strong one. “Isn’t that why you’re staying here?”

Her nerves prickled. Stay strong. Stay very strong. “Yes,” she said, “but you don’t have to be here 24-7.”

“No, I don’t.” A wicked, sexy smile curved his mouth. “I just want to keep an eye on my investment.”

Chapter Two

Zach stroked the underside of Kennedy’s wrist with his thumb. Her pulse thrummed and she could hear the thud, thud, thud of her heartbeat in her ears. She couldn’t find the strength to pull away from his mesmerizing touch.

She could accept his presence during the day. They’d have a professional distance built into their unexpected reunion              . Painters, demo experts, carpenters, and her cousin Caleb would create a perfect daytime barrier. And Zach would have plenty of corporate work to keep him occupied. But to have only a few walls separating them while they slept? To have him hear her nighttime ritual? To know the closeness and intimacy of sharing space again?




Zach’s mahogany eyes darkened to a dangerous shade and he tightened his grip. “You might not love me, Kennedy, but you still want me.”

Her cheeks burned as if she’d been slapped. Kennedy jerked her hand from his. “Do what you want, but don’t expect more from me than what’s written in my contract.” She swiped her shaking fingers on her jeans, then stared into his implacable eyes.

The air seemed to hang between them. Time stretched for an eternity as they glared at each other. As each second ticked by, Kennedy found it difficult to breathe, and her stomach hurt as if she’d been kicked.

“Our contract applies to the renovation. While you’re swinging hammers and gutting outbuildings, I’ll take care of Tanner Enterprises. After hours I expect you’ll change your mind about taking me back to your bed soon enough.” He cocked his head toward the bike. “Get your helmet. We’re using what’s left of the daylight to finish our inspection.”

“Whatever you say.” She pitched her voice low as she fought to conceal her emotions, but her entire body rebelled, proving Zach’s words true no matter her denial.