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My Deepest Love: Zack

By Marie Rochelle


Traci Wells never thought about dating any of the men from Make You Sweat, her local gym, until one catches her eye--the sexy blue-eyed stranger with the most unbelievable body she has ever laid eyes on. However, Traci promises not to let herself fall for Zack, but that vow is put to the test as the two of them grow closer and closer.

Zack Drace isn't usually the one who approaches women for dates, but when he spots the alluring mocha skinned beauty Traci Wells, that policy goes out the door. He wants to make her his more than anything in the world. And he isn't going to allow the opinions of his brothers or her sister to stand in his way.



Chapter One

Traci Wells stared in disbelief at the cell phone in her hand. “I can’t believe she cancelled on me again,” she huffed, shoving the phone back inside the gym bag. “She knows we work out together three times a week. How could Cherise schedule another meeting?”

Getting out of the car, she slammed the door and stormed into the fitness club. She stopped at the desk, signed in on the clipboard, and then headed for the workout room. Pausing in the doorway, Traci watched the other club members as they sweated to the beat of their own music.

At her left, a family was using the bikes as part of their cardio workout. A young woman in her twenties hurried past them towards her step class at the end of the hall. Traci noticed a couple of body builders through the window using the weights behind the bikes. Why would they want to have that much muscle on their bodies?

Sighing, she made her way over to the mats so she could stretch before her aerobics class. If she didn’t love potato chips so much, the gym wouldn’t ever be a part of her life. But she needed a way to work off her favorite snack, so here she was. Her best friend suggested the low-fat kind, but what was the thrill of eating a tasteless chip? If she was going to cheat, she would do it the right way. Tossing her bag to the side, Traci fell to the mat, already hating the night ahead.

After class tonight, she would pay a surprise visit to her sister’s job and give her the riot act. Cherise always found a way to back out at the last minute. It was supposed to be a sisterly outing, but her sister wasn’t keeping up her part of the deal.

Sure, she knew that Cherise stayed busy with the antique shop, but she needed more than that in her life. How did she ever expect to find a man? She was always hiding out in that damn shop of hers.

Pushing her sister to the back of her mind, Traci folded one of her legs in front of her and reached over to touch her opposite toe. She loved stretching before her class. It made the routine so much easier to follow, and it calmed her nerves. The step aerobics class she signed up for was extremely fast paced, and it could break a weaker person in the same day. However, she had been taking it for almost two months now and she loved it.

Moving her legs around, she reached for the other leg and felt the pull of her muscles getting ready for another night of fun. Honestly, she didn’t know if she really like working out as much as she loved staring at all the gorgeous guys that came here. This gym was the hot spot for the best looking guys in town. Taking a quick glance around the crowded room, she noticed the one particular guy she usually stared at wasn’t here tonight.

She had never been into picking up guys at the club or the gym, but after taking a glance at him in those tight black gym shorts, she changed her mind quickly. However, she didn’t have enough nerve to approach him, so she stayed back and stared at him from afar. Anyway, Cherise would have a fit if she knew she even glanced at the guy in the first place.




Zack Drace was coming from his nightly kickboxing class when he spotted his mystery woman. She was in her usual place on the mats, stretching her sexy body. He knew he should leave, but he couldn’t resist sneaking a peek at her. Glancing at his watch, Zack noticed his class had ended early, which meant he had at least ten extra minutes to observe her. Tonight her shoulder-length, brownish-black hair was pulled into a tight bun, shoving off her tempting neck. A white sports bra and matching shorts highlighted her brown skin. It showed off all her delicious curves.

Striding over to an empty table, he found a seat where he could examine her without being detected. His interest in this one specific woman shocked him because of all his brothers, he favored redheads.

Leaning back in the chair, he pulled his water bottle from his gym bag and took a quick drink. He loved coming to the gym and working out at a high intense pace. Screwing the top back on his water, he sat it on the table and watched the object of his interest finish her stretching and then stand.

It didn’t go over his head that he wasn’t the only man checking out her sexy body, and for some odd reason that bothered him. However, she seemed totally oblivious to him and the other men running their gazes up and down her body. She adjusted her sports bra, picked up her sky blue gym bag off the floor, and turned in his direction.

Resting his back against the seat, Zack tried to think of a way to get her into a conversation. He didn’t even know if she would be interested in dating a white man, but he could at least test the waters with a quick hello. He noticed that she was getting closer to him and he coughed to clear his throat. He didn’t want his voice catching while he was trying to impress her.

“Hi,” he said the second she was within hearing range.

She paused in mid-step and stared down at him. Her whiskey brown eyes blinked, and then a smile spread across her full mouth. “Hi,” she whispered back in a soft sultry voice, and then she continued to the step class behind him.

Turning around in the seat, he noticed how the shorts hugged her well-defined bottom. Yes, there were some definite possibilities there, if he could go by the look he saw in her eyes. The alarm went off on his watch and Zack cursed under his breath. Lee was going to kill him. This was the second time this month he was going to be late for the Drace brothers’ weekly Wednesday night dinner.

Zack got up from the chair and snatched his gym bag off the floor. Oh well, he didn’t care, because he finally got to speak to the goddess in the white workout outfit. He hoped that she would be back tomorrow. Maybe then he could introduce himself and see where things could go from there. Whistling, he strolled towards the front entrance and went out with thoughts of her in his mind.




“I know the reason you’re late has to be a woman,” his brother Lee accused the second he got his food and headed for the dinner table. “You know we have dinner together every Wednesday and you’re always late.” Pulling out a chair, Zack took his usual place between his two younger brothers, Richard and Brad.

He poured some ice tea into his glass, took a sip, and then answered his brother. “I got tied up at the gym,” Zack answered, avoiding his brother’s intense, ocean blue stare. Lee could make the strongest man shake in his shoes with that one look. He hated when his brother glared at him. Lee perfected that stare in his late twenties and he had used it ever since.

“Yeah, you got tied up at the gym flirting with some gym bunny,” Lee sighed. “I thought you were going to look for a more stable woman to have a relationship with.”

“I remember that is what you told us,” Richard chimed in next to him.

“Will you shut up?” he snapped at Richard. “Lee doesn’t need any extra help from you to lecture me.”

“Richard is right. I was here last weekend and I heard you say those exact words,” Brad added, then took a bite of his grilled salmon.

Zack couldn’t believe how his brothers were ganging up on him like this. Why is my love life always an open book? “Why don’t we stop talking about me and someone else volunteer to be in the hot seat?” he said, twisting around in his seat to stare at Richard. “What about you, Richard? How is it going with that new manager you hired at the restaurant? Is she still getting you all hot and bothered?”

Richard glowered at him and mumbled. “Dawn Summers isn’t doing anything of the sort to me. Anyway, we weren’t discussing me. We were talking about you.”

Zack smirked at his brother’s discomfort. “No. I don’t want to be the center of attention anymore. How about someone else jumping into that seat and letting me off the ride?”

“Okay, Zack. I’m sorry I even brought it up,” Lee muttered at him from the head of the table. “I shouldn’t have said anything at all, because you were only ten minutes late instead of your usual twenty.”

“Well, thanks,” Zack snickered, picking at the food on his plate.

He couldn’t keep the grin off his face. Without a doubt, he was always the one that got under his older brother’s skin. He didn’t mean to do it, but it was so much fun when he did. However, if Lee was in a bind and needed his help, he would be there—no questions asked. It was that way with any of his brothers. They were like the Four Musketeers.

“I’m sorry that I was late,” Zack apologized again to Lee. He knew how much these family dinners meant to him. “I’ll try my best to be on time next week.”

“Richard, how’s everything going at the restaurant?” he asked, turning his attention back to his calmer brother. D4 was his brother’s pride and joy, but he was constantly having problems keeping staff members.

“Our chef quit because he couldn’t work with Dawn. I mean, she’s gorgeous, but that chick has a temper and forever has an opinion about something.”

“Why don’t you fire her?” Lee asked, beating him to the question. Zack hated how Lee always found a way to cut him off in mid-conversation.

“I don’t know why I haven’t fired her. There’s something about her that makes me want to help her out,” Richard shrugged next to him.

Zack couldn’t believe how one minute Richard was talking about Dawn in one breath and in the next he was defending her. He wasn’t about to say a word, though, because the dinner conversation was finally off of him for once.

“Oh, are you thinking about letting her replace Emily?” Zack knew Richard was getting tired of his current overly-clingy girlfriend.

“Emily and I are just friends,” Richard replied, squirming uncomfortably in his seat.

“Well, I think she might think you’re more than that,” Lee interrupted.

Zack could tell the conversation was heading down the wrong road. Richard didn’t like Lee telling him what to do. Whenever Lee took that big brother attitude with him, it pissed Richard off to no end. Zack knew that he had to stop this conversation before Richard got up and stormed out of the house. Richard and Lee were like oil and water. They just didn’t mix well when one tried to boss the other one around.

“Lee, are you still planning to help me with that property I want downtown?” he interjected, cutting off Richard.

“Things are still up in the air on that one, so don’t talk about it with anyone else until I know for sure,” Lee answered.

He was dying to own and redo the quaint little shop he spotted several months ago. It was located in a very lucrative section of town and would be the perfect tourist attraction, but the owner was stubborn as a mule and wasn’t about to sell. It didn’t matter how much he offered, the answer always was no. Since Lee owned his marketing firm and knew more about that part of business world than him, Zack enlisted his big brother’s help with this problem. Hopefully, together they would be able find a way to get the building for a good price. The spot would be beautiful for what he had in mind for it.

Beautiful…that one word brought the woman from the gym instantly to his mind. He wondered what she was doing. Was she out with some friends or home with a husband and a couple of kids? He shouldn’t be fantasizing about someone that may already maybe be taken, but he couldn’t help it.

Zack wondered if she would be at the gym tomorrow. Because if she was, without a doubt he would go up and strike up a conversation with her, then maybe ask her out.. What do I have to lose, he thought.




“I’m going to kill you!” Traci snapped, storming into her sister’s office at seven o’clock that night. “This is the third time you’ve cancelled on me.” She stood in the middle of the room and gave her older sister the best I’m pissed at you face that she could.

A perfectly plucked eyebrow arched over a killer pair of golden-brown eyes. Cherise stared back at her. Traci knew her sister didn’t care she had abandoned her again at the gym tonight. “Don’t just sit there staring at me. Say something.”

“Traci, you know I have been busy working on these two account orders. I don’t have time to work out like you do,” Cherise Roberts said, standing up.

“Are you telling me the truth?” Traci asked, falling down into a chair, swinging her legs over the arm.

“Why would I lie?” Cherise questioned, going over to the window across from her desk.

“I know you don’t enjoy wearing workout clothes, but I don’t know what the problem is,” Traci replied, eyeing her curvy sister. “I would love to have your body.” She was so envious of how the wrap-around shirt hugged her sister’s gorgeous full-figured body.

“You say that now, but you wouldn’t if you actually had these babies,” Cherise said, pointing to her chest. “You would want them gone, plus all the extra curves that go with them,” she insisted, waving her hands up and down her body.

Picking up a magazine off the table, Traci fanned herself, trying to dry some of the sweat off her body. “You would have so much fun at Make You Sweat.”

Coming back across the room, Cherise sat back down behind her huge desk and rolled her eyes. “I still can’t believe people would go into a health club named that. It sounds way too depressing for me.”

Traci tossed the crumpled magazine back on the table and rearranged her body in the chair. Pulling her legs up to her chest, Traci rested her chin on them. She knew the real reason Cherise didn’t love her body, and if she could get her hands on Jesse, she would kill him. “You shouldn’t have listened to that loser of an ex-boyfriend of yours,” she complained. “He didn’t know what he was talking about. You don’t need to lose any weight.”

“Yeah right…Jesse just told me the truth that everyone else was afraid to tell me,” Cherise snickered.

“You don’t have an ounce of fat on your body; it’s all firm and solid,” Traci disagreed. “Jesse was a jerk and the best thing you ever did was dump him. Maybe you should think about dating a different kind of guy,” Traci suggested, turning her head away from her sister. The sexy guy from the gym flashed through her mind, bringing a smile to her face.

Tapping her fingers on her desk, Cherise drew Traci’s thoughts away from the sexy stranger and back to their conversation. “Something is different about you. What are you hiding from me? I know you’re up to something,” her sister drilled. “Have you seen someone you’ve found attractive?”

Traci’s eyes grew wide as saucers as she stared at her sister. How in the hell did she do that? She hadn’t said a word about the man from the gym, yet Cherise sensed there was someone she was interested in. “Umm…no, I was just thinking out loud,” she lied. Traci wasn’t going to mention the guy. Besides, he only smiled at her. It didn’t mean he was interested in her.

“Are you almost finished so we can grab a bite to eat? I’ve had a long day at the hospital and at the gym. I’m ready to relax with a good plate of food,” Traci said, getting up out of the chair stretching her back.

“I still think you should think about becoming a doctor. You’re one of the most intelligent women that I know,” Cherise said, shutting off her computer so they could leave for an early dinner.

Traci waited while her sister reached under the desk and grabbed her purse. She hated when Cherise brought up the doctor thing. Her sister already knew why she wasn’t about to go back to college. It was best to leave that part of her life back in the past where it belonged.




The next morning at work, Traci fixed her hair in the staff lounge while she waited for her best friend Eva to finish her coffee. “I don’t see how you drink that stuff,” she said, watching Eva down her third cup.

“If I didn’t drink this, I wouldn’t be able to function the rest of the day. I have to work a double shift, because Tamilee wanted the day off for a personal reason,” Eva complained. “Does she not think we all know she’s dating the head surgeon or what? Every time he strolls by her, she almost falls out of the seat trying not to touch him,” she mumbled, tossing her cup into the trashcan.

“Come on, girlfriend. Let’s make the best of this day,” Traci encouraged, pushing her body out of the chair.

“Do I have to?” Eva whined, brushing her hair away from her eyes.

“Don’t make me move you,” Traci threatened her taller friend with a quick grin. Standing up, Eva stared down at her from her five-foot, ten-inch height.

“You can’t even keep up in the fitness class, so I know you can’t move me,” Eva answered, tugging at her ponytail.

“Those step-training classes aren’t for sexy African-American women with shorter legs,” she replied, heading toward the door. Eva’s laughter echoed behind her as she went into the hallway.

“Excuses, excuses. That’s all I ever hear from you,” Eva sighed from behind her. “I better go upstairs and check on Mr. Peterson. You know how much he loves it when I give him his sponge bath.”

Twirling back around, Traci stared at the back of her friend as she made her way to the elevators. “Don’t you dare give that old man a heart attack,” she yelled.

“He has to go some time. Why can’t he go with a smile of his face?” Eva teased back at her, and waved before the doors closed in her face.

“What am I going to do with her? If she wasn’t my friend I would think she was a crazy woman.” Walking up to the nurse’s station, she sat behind the desk and checked the patients’ name in the computer. Traci had been hard at work for about a half hour when a deep voice pulled her concentration from the computer screen.

“Excuse me, but can you please help us?” a very masculine voice asked.

Looking up, Traci stared into the eyes of the man from the health club and almost slid out of her seat. “Yes,” she responded, trying to keep eye contact with the man she thought about over dinner last night. Cherise kept asking what had her attention all last night, and now he was standing in front of her.




Zack was stunned to find his mystery woman sitting in front of him wearing a sexy nurse’s uniform. He didn’t think nurses even wore those anymore, but he was sure as hell glad that she had one on. She looked good enough to eat and he was definitely hungry. After she was finished helping his brother, he promised himself that he was going to find out more about her.

“My brother has done something to his ankle,” he said, pointing to Brad over his shoulder. “He’s a tennis instructor and he thinks he might have twisted it.”

“If you come this way I can get him checked in and call a doctor to see you,” she said, coming around the desk with a clipboard in her hand.

She brushed past him liked she didn’t even recognize him. Zack swore that he would make her remember who he was the second he got a chance to be alone with her. He wasn’t about to mess up this golden opportunity.

“Come on Lee, Richard, and Brad,” Zack mused, following behind her. He thought the view from the front was good, but the back view was right up there, too.

“Please sit here,” she said, pointing to five empty seats, and then sat down in the first one.

Zack made sure he eased down right next to her. He didn’t want Lee scaring her off with his bad mood. In addition, Richard wasn’t in friendly disposition tonight, either, after having a fight with Dawn at the restaurant. Brad didn’t have any insurance, so there wasn’t any need for him to sit next to her. Luckily, that just left him and he was more than happy to do it.

“Okay, show me what I have to do for you and I’ll do it,” he whispered.

As she scooted closer to him, the light scent of jasmine tickled his nose. “Fill out all the information and bring the clipboard back to the desk,” she explained and got up from the seat.

He didn’t want her to leave, but he didn’t know what to say to make her stay. Glancing down quickly, Zack read her nametag. “Thank you, Nurse Wells.” Finally, he knew her name. The first part of his plan was done, now he only had to work on the second part getting her to agree to a date.

Smiling, she touched him on the forearm. “You can call me Traci,” she muttered with a sinful smile and strolled away.

Turning his head, Zack stared at Traci as she went back to the front desk and retook her seat. He wanted to go over there so bad and inquire if she had a boyfriend. He knew it was a long shot that someone as hot as her was single, but there might be a slim chance she was available.

“Earth to Zack, stop staring at the redhead and fill out the paperwork,” Lee complained, tapping him upside the head.

“What?” Zack answered dragging his eyes away from the sexy Traci.

“The red-headed nurse talking on the phone by the nurse’s station. You haven’t taken your eyes off her,” Lee grunted.

Looking further down the hall, he did notice a tall redhead on the phone with her back to him, but he hadn’t been looking at her. “Oh…sorry about that,” he apologized. Picking up the pencil, he began to read over the questions and answered them as quickly as possible. Thirty minutes later, he was inside a room standing next to Brad’s bed with his brothers, waiting impatiently for an ER doctor.

“Brad, how did you hurt your ankle?” Richard asked.

Why did Richard even bother to ask Brad that question? Zack thought, resting his back against the wall. Anytime Brad got injured playing tennis, it was because he was goofing off trying to impress a woman.

“I was trying to make a tennis shot and I moved too quickly.” Brad flinched when his ankle moved the wrong way on the bed. “God, I hate hospitals. I don’t know why I had to come here,” Brad whined, throwing a glance past him over to Lee.

Was he the only one that remembered this whining happened every time they brought Brad to the hospital for an injury? He would lie in the bed and complain until the doctor came to see him. Then it would continue through the checkout process and all the way home back to his house. It would only stop after he had his pills and something to eat.

“I thought it was best if you got some x-rays, so don’t give me that look,” Lee complained. “You are too old to still be afraid of the hospital.”

“Lee, leave Brad alone. You know he’s never been fond of hospitals since he was as a kid,” Zack interjected, trying to stop a fight before it even got started. He didn’t want to spend his entire night keeping his brothers away from each other. He had more important things he wanted to do, like find out more about Traci Wells.

Hearing a knock at the door, he looked at over and smiled when Traci came through. “I’m just checking to make sure everyone is okay,” she said, making eye contact with all of them.

“No, everything isn’t okay,” Brad complained from the bed, beating him to the punch.

“What’s wrong?” Traci questioned, brushing past him as she went to check on his complaining brother. He tried his best not to notice how good she felt and smelled.

“Brad isn’t fond of hospitals and the longer he stays in one, the crazier he becomes,” Zack answered, making Traci look in his direction. He couldn’t let his baby brother steal the spotlight from him. Not when the woman he found so fascinating was standing five feet in front of him.

“The doctor will make your brother’s exam as painless as possible,” Traci promised. He liked his woman tall, but Traci’s petite height was turning him on. “It shouldn’t be much longer until the doctor comes in to see Brad,” she said, staring up into his eyes. Touching Brad on the leg, Traci moved away from the bed and him. He instantly missed the sweet aroma of her perfume.

“Is there anything else I can do?” she asked from over by the door.

Yeah. Agree to go out on a date with me, Zack thought.

“No. We don’t need anything. Thanks for asking,” Lee snapped before he could get his thoughts together. “We liked wasting the last thirty minutes on a doctor who still hasn’t shown up.”

Shit! Zack couldn’t believe Lee just did that to him. He would buy a muzzle for his damn brother’s mouth tomorrow. Why in the hell did Lee answer Traci when she was looking at him? That could have been his chance at finding a way out of the room, so he could find out more about her.

“Okay,” Traci stammered as confusion crossed her pretty face. “But if you change your mind, push the red button by the side of the bed. It will tell the nurse’s station that you want something,” Traci informed them. She opened the door and went out, closing it softly behind her.

“I don’t need a little red button to help me find out more about you,” Zack muttered at the closed door. However, Lee might need one later on after he was finished with him. Didn’t his overbearing brother know how to use any kind of manners when it came to dealing with people? It was beyond rude the way he spoke to Traci.

“Zack, did you say something?” Lee asked him.

He dragged his gaze away from the door back over to his brother. “No. I was just thinking out loud,” he lied.




“Eva, can you do me a favor?” Traci asked.

Shutting the patient’s file, Eva said, “Depends on what it is. The last time I said yes, I got stuck with working with Melvin for a week. You know how much I hate him.”

“Didn’t I take you out shopping to make up for that one mistake?” she laughed. “I thought you might enjoy working with a man who loved staring into your emerald green eyes,” Traci mimicked Melvin with his nasal sounding voice.

A folder hit her hard on the head. “Stop it or I’ll say no instantly,” Eva threatened, waving the folder in front of her. “You already know I know how to use this thing.”

Sobering up, she coughed out the last of laughter. “Sorry. Do you mind checking on the Drace man instead of me? I don’t think his brother cares for me too much and I’m not in the mood to keep quiet tonight.”

Eva tossed down the patient file on their desk and jumped out of her seat. She had never seen her friend move so fast. “I’ll be more than happy to take your place. Did you see the one wearing the leather coat?” Eva asked, closing her eyes in pleasure. “It’s been such a long time since I had something that scorching in my bed.”

Traci tried not to be hurt by her friend’s flirtatious nature. Eva never had any problems attracting men, not that she didn’t get plenty of dates herself either. However, Eva always had a man who swept her off to romantic and exotic locations around the world. Any woman would be envious.

“Do you mind checking the supplies for me?” Eva asked, brushing her hands down the front of her uniform. “I know we need to order a few extra items.”

“No. I wouldn’t mind a little time to myself anyway,” she confessed, grabbing the supply chart off the table.

“Wonderful. While you’re ordering bandage and needles, I’ll be working on getting a new boyfriend,” Eva purred before heading for Brad Drace’s room with an extra sway to her hips. Knocking on the closed door once, she opened it then went in.

“At least I got to look at him for a little while.” Shaking her head at her bad luck, Traci pressed the clipboard to her chest and went towards the supply closet.




Escaping the room was the only thought on his mind and the sooner the better, because if she winked at him one more time he would scream. Why didn’t Traci come back? He knew the answer. Lee had chased her off with his arrogant comment. Making his way into the hallway, Zack looked around, trying to find Traci so he could apologize for Lee’s bad behavior earlier. He hoped that she hadn’t already left for the night, because then the apology would have to wait until he saw her at the gym.

Turning the corner, he spotted Traci coming out of a closet struggling with a large box. “Here, let me help you with that,” he said, running up to her.

“Oh, there’s no need,” Traci exclaimed, stopping in the hallway to stare at him.

“No. I insist,” he said, taking the box from her. Hell, he wasn’t going to miss this chance to be alone with her. “Where do you want it?” he asked, flashing her a smile.

She didn’t look to ready to take his help. In fact, Traci looked a little scared of him. “Listen, I promise I’m not planning to hurt you. I honestly want to help you with this box and apologize for my brother Lee. He didn’t have any reason to snap at you like that.”

The slight fear cleared from her eyes and Traci gave him another heart-pulling smile. “Don’t worry about your brother. I run into men like him all the time at the hospital. I usually ignore them and they go away.”

“Good. I didn’t want you to think I was anything like him,” Zack grinned. “Now, how about you tell me where to take this box for you?”

“Follow me,” Traci sighed, moving toward the end of the hallway lounge. “I hope that you know I was strong enough to carry that box.”

Smirking, Zack strolled behind Traci, enjoying the view of her butt in the snug white pants. “I didn’t think that you weren’t, but I wouldn’t have been a gentleman if I didn’t offer my help.”

Traci glanced at him over her shoulder. “Hmmm….It wouldn’t have been nice of me to turn down a gentleman…now would it?”

“No. It wouldn’t have,” he teased back, watching Traci as she spun back around.

“They go right inside here,” she announced, stopping at a door with the words Staff Lounge across the door in big black letters. “But I don’t need any help taking the box inside,” Traci said, reaching for it.

Zack lifted it up higher, loving the perplexed look that came on her face. “No, I’m a gentleman and I want to finish helping you.” Sliding past her, he eased into the small lounge, dropping the box in the middle of the table. “So, how long have you been a nurse?” he inquired, watching Traci as she closed the door behind her.

Going to the other side of the table, she opened to box and started to remove straws and other plastic items. “Shouldn’t you be with your brother?”

“Nah, he has Lee and Richard with him, so Brad will be just fine. I want to stay here and flirt with a good-looking nurse,” he remarked with a quick wink.

Traci tried not to smile at him, but it came out anyway. She couldn’t help it. With his quick wit and friendly personality, he would steal a smile from her any opportunity he got. “Aren’t you going to answer my question?” he asked, taking a seat.

“Well, I have been a nurse for about three years and I get a lot of pleasure from my job.” Traci slid several straws into the plastic container at the side of the table. She stared at him a few seconds then continued. “You should go. Your brother doesn’t like me too much and I don’t want him hunting for you.”

“Lee is just stressed out. That’s why he had an attitude with you,” Zack replied. “He’s usually a pretty laid back guy.” Besides, he wasn’t ready to leave. He wanted to stay longer and find out more about Traci. He hadn’t even found out if she had a boyfriend.

“Well, I still think you need to leave, because you aren’t really supposed to be in here with me,” she said marching over to the door. “I bet Brad is ready to get checked out and Eva probably has the papers for you to sign.” Traci opened the door and gestured for him to get up and leave with a wave of her hand.

Zack stood up and went to stand in front of Traci. He wanted to say more, but he caught a passing glance of Richard in the distance searching for him. “I do see my brother looking for me, so I guess I better go,” he acknowledged, staring down at her. He was dying to touch her, but knew it was too soon for that.

“I hope Brad’s ankle will be okay,” she said before she hurried out the door down the hallway and turned the corner.

Zack stood in the same spot until she was out of sight. Luck was halfway on his side tonight. At least he got to know her name and steal a few minutes alone with her. What more could he ask for from a first meeting?

“I thought if I found a certain nurse, I would find you,” Richard uttered behind him.

“Is Brad ready to go home?” he asked, still looking at the last spot he saw Traci.

“Yes, and you know Lee is beyond ready to leave.”

“Well let’s go. Can’t have Lee screaming at half of the hospital, scaring the patients,” Zack laughed, slapping Richard on the back. He strolled back to Brad’s room with his brother tossing him odd looks all the way.




Easing back around the corner, Traci stared at Zack until he entered his brother’s room at the opposite end of the hallway. “I can’t like you because Cherise will not like it one bit.”

Traci groaned aloud at the long night that she still faced. She had another four hours left of her shift. Then she had to go home and fight with Cherise while she finished packing up the last of her things. She hoped her sister was coming to better terms about her moving out.