Zane

By: Brenda Jackson

One

“What do you mean Channing’s back in Denver?” Zane Westmoreland dropped down in the chair across from his sister, a dark frown covering his face.

He fixed his gaze on Bailey, waiting on her response. Bailey knew that any mention of Channing Hastings would make him mad, but it seemed she was intent on ignoring him while she continued to eat her bowl of ice cream. Anyone else would have jumped at the anger that was apparent in his voice but not this particular sister. She didn’t do anything until she was good and ready. While he waited, even more irritation bubbled up inside of him.

After what seemed like an enormous period of silence, Bailey finally angled her head. “I meant just what I said. I saw Channing today when I had lunch at the hospital with Megan. I understand she arrived in town last week. She looks good by the way.”

Zane wasn’t surprised. As far as he was concerned, there was never a time when Channing hadn’t looked good…even after a sweaty workout session at the gym.

Suddenly, unbridled fury worked its way along his stomach lining. Why should he care how an ex-girlfriend looked? More importantly, why did the thought of her being back in town trigger such deep-seated anger within him?

Zane could answer that question without much thought. It hadn’t been their breakup that still pissed him off but rather how they had broken up. Usually he was the one who decided when one of his relationships ended, but Channing had surprised the hell out of him and ended it herself.

“Is Channing’s fiancé with her?” He could have bitten off his tongue for asking.

“No, she’s only here for six weeks, hosting a medical symposium at the hospital.” Bailey didn’t say anything for a minute and then, “That man got under my skin.”

Zane lifted a brow. “What man?”

“Channing’s fiancé. He was checking out the women at Megan’s wedding reception, even with Channing standing right beside him. He had a lot of nerve.”

Zane had noticed the man’s roving eyes, as well. He really shouldn’t care. If Channing was inclined to put up with that kind of foolishness, that was her business. It shouldn’t concern him. But it did.

He glanced out the window while his mind wandered back in time. He had dated Channing longer than he’d dated any other woman—nine months exactly. Things had been almost perfect between them. But then she’d started hinting that she wanted more from their relationship. That was when he’d reiterated that he was not the marrying kind and never intended to be.

She never brought up the issue again, and Zane had assumed things were back to normal. But less than a month later, out of the clear blue sky, she told him that she had accepted a job at a hospital in Atlanta and would be moving away.

That had annoyed the hell out of him. She was trying to force his hand, and he wouldn’t allow any woman to do that. So he’d called her bluff, refusing to offer a proposal. But then she’d moved to Atlanta as planned. That was almost two years ago, and he hadn’t seen or heard from her until she’d shown up at his sister’s wedding last month an engaged woman.

Engaged.

The very thought made him angry. She’d had the nerve to bring her fiancé to the wedding knowing full well Zane would be there. And like Bailey had said, the man had checked out other women even with Channing by his side. That she was so desperate to have a ring on her finger that she would settle for such a man—the realization made Zane madder.

“This is simply delicious.”

Bailey’s words intruded on his thoughts. He glanced over at his sister, and his frown deepened. He had come home to find her sitting at his kitchen table like she lived there. In his current mood, her presence aggravated him. “And what do you think you’re doing?”

She smiled. “What does it look like? I’m eating ice cream.”

“My ice cream,” he muttered. “How did you get in here, anyway? I changed the locks on my door.”

Bailey leaned back in her chair and chuckled. “I noticed. Did you forget that I know how to pick a lock, Zane? Bane taught me ages ago. And as far as the ice cream, you only bought it because you knew I’d eat it. You don’t even like ice cream, and this is one of my favorite flavors.”

“They’re all your favorite flavors,” he said, forcing himself not to grin. The last thing he needed was for her to think he was getting soft. And as far as picking locks, he had forgotten that talent had been just one of the many ways she and their cousin Bane used to get into trouble.

Getting up from the table, he headed for the door.