The Maverick's Red Hot Reunion  (12)

By: Christine Glover

“I hear you. At night.” He moved closer. “Your midnight murmurings. Your tossing. Your turning. I hear it all.”

The cool air heated between them. The lodge and grounds became misty, the sounds of gears and hammers muted. Everything surrounding them faded as if the world no longer existed.

She stared at the devilishly drop-dead gorgeous man who’d developed into a powerful corporate maverick. This man had mastered his ability to manipulate, control, dominate. He had the charisma and the charm to lure her back into his bed.

Her fingers tingled and she heard the roar of her heartbeat in her ears. One step. Just one step and she’d be in his arms.

But she couldn’t allow him to get that close to her again.

Kennedy’s green eyes glittered and a blush shimmied up her neck and into her cheeks. Her fiery hair danced around the planes of her face.

“I’m sorry I’m keeping you awake,” she said.

Zach heard the catch in her voice, the husky sensual tone, the hint of sorrow. Sorrow he’d rather not revisit, although her soft cries during the night had called to him and stirred his compassion. That she could still hide beneath the surface of her tightly guarded emotions frustrated him.

Sure, he had other women with no strings attached before he had returned to Sweetbriar Springs. It had been so easy to pretend he didn’t want Kennedy when she wasn’t in the picture. For five years, it had been so damned easy to pretend their breakup hadn’t shattered his heart when he was flying to parts unknown and losing himself in the arms of strangers.

And he’d been a damned fool all along. Those other women had paled in comparison to Kennedy. Whatever had burned between them when they first met still flared. And he’d be damned if he didn’t figure out why she’d rejected him when clearly she still wanted him.

Zach touched a loose strand of her hair, twirled the copper silk around his finger. “I’m awake. You’re awake. Why not be awake together?” he teased.

“You need your sleep. If I’m disturbing you, consider earplugs.” She clasped her hands behind her back. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a roof to inspect.”

She turned on her booted heel and marched to the scaffolding. Banging, sawing, and hammering accompanied every step in Kennedy’s confident stride.

He’d been close, but Kennedy had a knack for squeezing out of emotionally tight situations. Zach kicked a stone and it sailed onto the front porch, landing next to the hanging swing he’d yet to remove from the rafters.

A sharp pain pinged inside his temples. He’d stolen his first kiss from Kennedy in that swing. He remembered her taste, the sigh of her pleasure, the warmth of her body responding to his mouth on her lips. The exhilaration and the tenderness, the exquisite stirring of his youthful heart. The growing affection between them.

Zach pinched the bridge of his nose and pressed the recollection back inside his mind’s vault.

Kennedy’s assistant walked outside, clipboard in hand, taking the stairs two at a time. “Got another batch of paperwork for you to sign,” Caleb said.

“Got a pen?”

“Here.” Caleb passed it to Zach. “Place looks better.”

He scribbled his name, handed the sheets back. “We keep up this pace, we’ll be finished by December. Open for business by Christmas.”

Already he and Kennedy had transformed the lodge from dull and listless to glamorous and dynamic. The rusty iron gates had been replaced with glossy black metal. The interior had been stripped of old wallpaper and outdated paint, then primed for the new color palette.

Zach looked around the compound. Heavy equipment moved dirt, the gears shifting and creaking. Voices called for more wood, more help, more muscle.

“Have the supplies arrived for the hot springs renovation?” he asked.

“Due next week,” Caleb said. “You wanna go to the tavern with us tonight? We’re shooting darts, knocking a few beers back.”

“Can’t. I’m busy.”

“Maybe next weekend.”

“Perhaps.” Doubtful. If he had his way, he’d be with Kennedy.

He gazed at the top of the lodge. The sun rose high in the sky. He could see Kennedy climbing the ledges across the roof. She’d never been intimidated by heights. Nor had she been frightened of anything but the dark. She was supple and surefooted. Her hard hat hid most of her hair, but a few errant curls whipped her cheeks.

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