The Maverick's Red Hot Reunion  (9)

By: Christine Glover

She touched the computer screen, wishing Michael was in the room with her, not thousands of miles away, then shot a glance over her shoulder as Zach walked into the kitchen. Her heart rate ramped up. “Yes.”



So not cool. Especially when every girl part she possessed started dancing a hallelujah high kick whenever Zach was within a few feet of her. And especially not when she could smell his delicious male scent as he joined her at the counter.

“Hey, you get the forms filled out for the Tallahassee University Hospital clinical study?” Zach asked.

“Dude, I already got one Mom, I don’t need you ragging on me, too.”

“What study?” Kennedy asked.

Zach put one arm on either side of Kennedy, framing her with his muscular body. “Clinical research trial in Florida’s Tallahassee Research Hospital.”

She could see the fine, golden hairs on Zach’s muscular forearms, felt the heat pulsing between her and his chest. One small move backward would close the scant distance between them. Oh, how she longed to rest her head in the curve of his broad shoulder, feel the comforting stroke of his hand through her hair.

Instead she leaned closer to the computer screen. “You want to do this?” she asked Michael.

“Of course he does.” Zach spoke for Michael. “Biostem’s patented technology can help produce neural stem cells in the brain. That treatment combined with occupational therapy gives Michael great odds for busting this disease’s ass.”

Naturally, Zach would want to fix the problem, find a way to change reality. But she’d learned all too well that not every problem was fixable. Still, she wanted to believe in miracles where Michael was concerned. “Sounds promising,” she said.

“What’s more promising is my fantasy football league lineup,” Michael said, obviously not interested in discussing his illness anymore. “You got your picks in, Zach?”

“Yup. My team’s going to kick your team’s fucking butt.”

“Guys, watch your language,” Michael’s sister Jessie called as she stepped into the screen’s view. “Kids in the room.”

Kennedy laughed as Jessie’s four-year-old son Robert chanted the F bomb while his younger sister Serena gurgled butt repeatedly, giggling.

“This from the sister who swears like a Marine,” Michael said.

“I’ve toned it down a lot—besides I am a Marine,” Jessie said, then disappeared from their view as she corralled her children and marched them out of the laptop’s Skype feed.

Michael shook his head. “She may not be on active duty anymore, but that IED explosion didn’t steal her spunk or her potty mouth.”

“I heard that!” Jessie yelled.

Zach chuckled and a wave of nostalgia crested through Kennedy. She’d missed the ease and familiarity among her friends. Six years ago, Jessie’s injuries had forced her to give up her career in the Marines, but she continued to use her skills as an explosives expert for her husband Blake’s Hollywood action hero movie franchise. And she’d claimed all the happiness she deserved with a man who loved her with a fierce intensity.

Long ago Kennedy had believed in that fairy tale as well, but her dreams had turned to dust.

Zach pushed away from the counter, grabbed a cup and brewed a single cup of coffee, then returned to sit next to Kennedy. “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”

“More like once a pain, always a pain,” Michael said, but he couldn’t hide the pride in his voice. “Why the heck didn’t my parents have the good sense to give me brothers? I’m surrounded by clucking hens and now it’s harder to get away.”

“That’s why you have me,” Zach said. “I’ve got your back.”

Though his body no longer framed hers, Zach’s shoulder and leg brushed against her as he peered at the screen and slugged back his coffee. Her skin tingled, electricity sparked along her nerve endings. Would she ever stop wanting the one man she couldn’t have?

She lifted her cup and sipped, ignoring her body’s traitorous reaction. “Speaking of sisters, where’s Hannah?”