Saturday, April 12, 2008

My Deepest Love: Zack

Traci Wells stared in disbelief at the cell phone in her hand. "I can't believe she canceled 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.