Zack (Carolina Cold Fury Hockey Series #3)325
Zack (Carolina Cold Fury Hockey Series #3)325
Warning: The following contains spoilers from a cliffhanger in Garrett.
Rising star Zack Grantham has been stuck in a downward spiral of grief that has put his career on hold. Back on the road with the Carolina Cold Fury, still crippled by emotional baggage, and now a single dad, he’s in need of some serious help with his son. But while the nerdy new nanny wins his son’s heart, Zack isn’t sure he’s ready for a woman’s touch—even after getting a glimpse of the killer curves she’s hiding under those baggy clothes.
Kate Francis usually keeps men like Zack at a distance. Though his athlete’s body is honed to perfection, he refuses to move on with his life—and besides, he’s her boss. Still, the sparks between them are undeniable, tempting Kate to turn their professional relationship into a personal one. But before she makes a power play for Zack’s wounded heart, Kate will have to open him up again and show him that love is worth the fight.
The Carolina Cold Fury series from New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett can be read together or separately:
And don’t miss her Arizona Vengeance series:
The Love Hurts series features sexy standalone novels:
SEX IN THE STICKS
And the Sugar Bowl series is one treat you’ll want to read in order:
“One of the best voices in contemporary romance.”—New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne
Praise for Zack
“Emotional, intense, funny, and sexy, Zack has it all. I didn’t want this book to end.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover
“I have loved this series from the beginning and I continue to fall in love with it every book. I can’t wait for Ryker.”—The Book Whisperer
“Wham! And my heart broke! Kate is so loving, tender, open-minded and amazing that I fell for her almost as hard as I fell for Zack and his ornery ways!”—(un)Conventional Bookviews
Includes a special message from the editor, as well as an excerpt from another Loveswept title.
Related collections and offers
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Series:||Carolina Cold Fury Hockey Series , #3|
|Sold by:||Random House|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
A reformed trial lawyer from North Carolina, Sawyer uses real-life experience to create relatable, sexy stories that appeal to a wide array of readers. From new adult to contemporary romance, she writes something for just about everyone.
Sawyer likes her Bloody Marys strong, her martinis dirty, and her heroes a combination of the two. When not bringing fictional romance to life, Sawyer is a chauffeur, stylist, chef, maid, and personal assistant to a very active daughter, as well as a full-time servant to her adorably naughty dogs. She believes in the good of others and that a bad day can be cured with a great workout, cake, or even better, both.
Sawyer also writes general and women’s fiction under the pen name S. Bennett and sweet romance under the name Juliette Poe.
Read an Excerpt
The doorbell rings just as I’m trying to simultaneously flip a pancake with one hand and pull bacon off the griddle with another. The pancake ends up sticking, then folding in half, and my forearm hits the edge of the griddle. I swear I can hear my skin sizzle from the contact.
“F$#@!” I jerk backward, dropping both the fork in one hand and the spatula in the other, thankful that Ben is in his room playing and didn’t hear me say that. It’s a constant battle sometimes to watch my language around the kid.
Slapping at the control knobs, I turn the heat completely off the large electric griddle I had been struggling with and rub gently the burn on my arm as I head toward the front door. As I round the corner from the kitchen into the living room, I slam my bare foot into Ben’s large dump-truck toy, causing a string of curses to come out of my mouth now as I hobble onward to the door.
My front door is honey-colored oak and has a large oval glass inset with a beveled flower design. Gina had picked it out and had it installed, claiming that it allowed more light into the front entranceway. I thought it was a little too girly, but I didn’t argue with her. The house was her domain.
The glass lets me see my visitor on the other side, but provides no details because of the beveled cuts and partial frosting, which distort the person. But I know who it is.
Ben’s new nanny.
She was Delaney’s top choice, and after I briefly scanned her application I had to sit and listen to my sister rave about her. Delaney felt she was perfect for the job in all respects. She was fantastic with children, having helped raise her three nephews for a period of time. She was also a student with a flexible schedule. Delaney actually droned on and on about this particular situation, but I tuned her out and started thinking about everything I’d need to do to get the house ready to put on the market. I was seriously considering selling it. Maybe move farther out into the country, where we could have some land and Ben could have a dog.
Finally, I just cut Delaney off and said, “She sounds perfect. Let’s go with her.”
And now, as I’m about to open the door to let a woman into my house who will have the most important of responsibilities in helping me care for my son, I’m suddenly realizing I don’t know anything about her other than her name and a vague recollection that she’s a student who helped raise her nephews.
Just great. Way to be an involved and responsible parent, Zack.
The only saving grace at this moment is that Delaney thoroughly interviewed this girl, checked out her references, and was absolutely enchanted with her. I trust Delaney, so this will be fine. She’ll be great, in fact.
I wish I believed myself.
I swing the door open and get my first look at the woman who will be moving into my house and caring for my son. I’m not sure what I expected, but this wasn’t it.
Based on Delaney’s assessment, I expected her to have a superhero’s cape on, or at the very least a shiny gold halo and massive angel wings sprouting out of her back.
Instead . . . she’s sort of unremarkable.
She stares up at me with round, crystal-blue eyes that are devoid of any makeup and surrounded by brown plastic-framed glasses. Her hair is dark, held back with a headband and twisted up behind her so I have no clue how long it is. She’s small, barely coming up to my shoulder, and swimming in an oversized, extremely faded red NC State sweatshirt and baggy jeans that look about two sizes too big for her. An old backpack slung over her shoulder and a pair of well-worn tennis shoes complete her outfit.
“Roberta?” I ask hesitantly, because suddenly I’m thinking this may be someone soliciting something . . . or maybe even a homeless person looking for a meal. The way those clothes completely swallow her makes me think she’s starving underneath all that material.
She gives me an outwardly bright smile and sticks a delicate hand out toward me. Her sweatshirt is so big, her sleeves are rolled up around her wrists. “Actually . . . I go by Kate. Roberta’s my first name, which I was named after my daddy, Robert, but seriously . . . who wouldn’t hate that name? So I go by my middle name, which is Kathryn, actually. So I shorted it down to Kate, because Kathryn sounds just so . . . I don’t know . . . like a Catholic saint or something, and I’m not Catholic. I was raised Southern Baptist, but I really don’t go to church anymore, so—”
She pauses . . . finally, and takes a deep breath. Her smile goes from politely earnest to a sheepish grin, and she gives an apologetic shrug. “Sorry . . . I’m nervous and I tend to prattle when I’m nervous.”
I just blink at her, completely shocked silent. I have no clue what to think about this strange woman . . . no, girl, I think, because she looks so young.
“How old are you?” I ask, my eyes glancing suspiciously at her hand still extended toward me.
“Twenty-three,” she says. “Didn’t Delaney tell you about me? You knew I was coming today, right?”
“Um . . . yeah, she did. I guess I didn’t hear her mention your age,” I mutter.
Kate takes a small step forward and pushes her hand farther toward me, giving me a pointed look. “It’s nice to meet you.”
Her voice is soft, with a moderate southern twang. I can’t remember if Delaney told me where she was from or not. . . . I can’t remember anything she said.
I reach out hesitantly and shake her hand. It’s tiny and her bones feel small, but she grips me surely. “Yeah . . . uh, nice to meet you too,” I say absently.
Our hands break apart and we just stare at each other.
Her eyes are intent on me, yet filled with a sort of curiosity. I wonder what in the heck she could be curious about. I’m sure Delaney filled her in on my situation and what I needed her for.
Damn, this girl—well, woman—is just . . . weird. She’s sort of geeky-looking yet doesn’t have any shyness or awkwardness that is normally associated with geekdom. She looks like she’d rather be sitting in some computer science lab with tape on the bridge of her glasses and a pocket protector, discussing quantum physics or something equally boring. What in the heck was Delaney thinking? I guess I was sort of expecting maybe a more matronly type of person who would wear an apron and bake sugar cookies every day.
“Are you okay?” she asks, and I blink at her, my mind absolutely blank as to what she could mean.
“Yeah, why?” I ask, confused.
“Well, you’re just sort of staring at me like I’ve got antlers sticking out of my head or something. I know I’m not much to look at, but I promise . . . I’m the right person for this job.”
And clearly she’s the type of person who will say whatever is on her mind, which makes me feel even more awkward. I’ve been so removed from people in general—and those that I do interact with treat me with kid gloves—that I’m not sure how to handle someone as direct as her.
“Um . . . why don’t you come in,” I tell her suddenly. “I need to make a quick call and then we can talk.”
“Sure,” she says with a bright smile, and it irritates me how chipper she is. I step back, allowing her to walk into the foyer, shutting the door behind her.
She looks around with interest. “You have a beautiful home.”
I don’t respond because this house doesn’t hold a single ounce of beauty for me. Instead, I point to right where she’s standing and say, “Wait here. I’ll be right back.”
Turning away from her, I bound up the stairs to the right of the entryway. I stride past Ben’s bedroom and see he’s immersed in a game on his iPad. Good . . . I don’t want him coming downstairs yet, because I’m not sure what in the heck to do with that girl down there.
Stalking into my office, which is basically one of the spare bedrooms, I close the door and whip my phone out of my pocket. I pull Delaney’s number up and stab at it urgently.
She answers curtly. “I’m heading into a meeting. Make it quick.”
“What the heck, Delaney? I think you made a terrible mistake hiring this girl.”
She sighs into the phone, but her voice is firm. “She’s a woman.”
“Whatever. She’s weird.”
“She’s adorable,” she says with affection.
“Adorable isn’t a qualification to be a nanny,” I hiss at her, my eyes cutting to the door to make sure I did indeed close it behind me. And adorable? Where is she getting that from?
Delaney’s voice is filled with condescension when she says, “What’s her last name?”
“Huh?” I ask stupidly.
“What is Kate’s last name?” she asks, enunciating each word carefully.
“Heck if I know,” I growl at her, my mind going blank. I knew what it was two minutes ago, but it’s not coming to me now.
“And what’s her educational background?”
I’m silent, racking my brain for the information.
“And her work history?” she asks.
Again, silence from me.
“Oh, and how about her references . . . what did they have to say about her?”
“I don’t know, okay?” I curse with frustration.
“Exactly,” she says firmly. “You didn’t listen to a darn thing I said about her the other day. So now you are just going to have to trust that I made the right decision for you. She is absolutely perfect for this job, and besides that . . . Ben liked her far better than the other applicants. She was amazing with him.”
“She’s weird,” I say lamely . . . futilely, I know.
“Get over it,” she sneers at me. “You’re out of time and you need someone immediately, since you start practice next week. I’ve been on your butt for weeks to get involved with this decision and you ignored me at every turn. So tough sugar . . . she’s got the job and you’re going to give her a chance, you hear me?”
Damn . . . Sometimes I really can’t stand my older sister. I have the sudden urge to stick my tongue out at her over the phone, but deep down . . . I know she’s right. I’ve been checked out mentally since the accident and depended on her way too much to handle this. Now I’m stuck with it.
“Fine,” I grumble at her as I rub my fingers hard along my jaw. I had just decided to shave my beard off this morning and my face feels so . . . so . . . naked.
“Good,” she says, completely happy with herself. “Now, I’ve got to go. I love you.”
“Back at ya,” I mutter, and then hang up on her, knowing she’s wearing a self-satisfied grin on her face.
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