Zenith in Love (Zenith Series #5) - Leanne Davis

Chapter 1

“KAYLA.” JIM ZAVARIAN’S TONE sounded like a chiding father facing off with a too rambunctious, too often disciplined young toddler. “What are you doing here?”

“Seeing my sister.”

“You don’t usually come here for that.” Here being church.

“Right. Perhaps I’m here because I sinned too much last night and now, I’m in dire need of confession to redeem my immortal soul.” She gave him a quick, obnoxious eyebrow lift with another smirk.

He closed his eyes, removed his glasses, touched the bridge of his nose with his fingertips and blinked his eyes open. He looked tired. Surprised at his reaction, she almost regretted the goading. He put his dark-framed glasses back on. They were uniquely his. Not many men could pull that look off. On him they were sort of studious-sexy, rather than just dorky. Another thing Kayla would never admit to anyone.

“I’m not a priest and we don’t do confession. You’re just being rude and disrespectful right now. News alert, but not to you, huh?”

She was being rude. Yes, just a bit. Slightly chagrined, she nodded. “Maybe.” She gave him a real smile. “Lighten up, Pastor. Last night I hung with my mom and dad before falling asleep long and hard.”

She realized after she said her sleep was long and hard, that it sounded a bit sensuous? She stepped back and her smile faded. She didn’t intend to sound like… what? Someone suggesting something sensual to Jim?


Even his name was ordinary. Nothing unusual, sexy or hot about the name Jim. It was solid, mundane and boring, like the name of a tax collector or an insurance salesman. Right? Yes.

Jim. Her sister’s fiancé.

Pastor Jim Zavarian was about the most eloquent, engaging, interesting, inspiring public speaker and pastor anyone could remember. However, in real life, he was also the most sanctimonious, annoying and frustrating man Kayla knew.

She never ceased to appreciate Jim’s unusual talent for oration. Not many had the gift like he did. She had to give him that. The first time Kayla heard him, her head nearly flew off her body when she turned around that fast to see him with her own eyes. Shocked. Amazed. Flabbergasted. Those were only a few words to describe her reaction at seeing the transformation in him. Going from the Jim who abraded her so often she wanted to scratch his eyes out, to the Jim who spoke like an angel, addressing the massive congregation in a warm, inspirational, motivational, life-changing way seemed like a full one-eighty to her.

When she first met Jim Zavarian, a couple of years ago, Kathy showed up with him in tow, saying he was her pastor and friend, whom she’d invited for dinner. By the end of the evening, Kayla had already found half a dozen items they’d clashed on and she razzed Jim about all of them. She’d restrained herself at that dinner, believing it would be a one-time affair. But damn! Her sweet, rather naïve and clueless sister started dating the pompous fool.

Over the course of the next two years, Kayla failed to keep her silence, and even initiated several conflicts between herself and Jim. It hurt Kathy’s feelings, although Kayla sensed it didn’t hurt Jim’s feelings at all. In fact, it was about the only time Jim seemed interesting. His eyes flashed with passion and he showed some actual feeling.

Kayla’s real conversations were reserved for the times when she was alone with Jim. And the fucker did it right back to her. He deserved an Oscar for the way he played the serious, humble, good pastor to his congregation.

“Kayla, you are ever the prize.” Jim muttered for her ears only.

Ouch. Coming from a pastor standing in his place of worship? On a Sunday? Just after performing the service? Well, damn. Once again, Jim annoyed her. He always seemed to get to her. Kayla checked her response as Kathy was walking up just then.

“Kayla! I didn’t know you were coming home. Much less, here. I can’t believe it.” Kathy embraced her in a warm, sincere hug. Kayla returned it, glancing at Jim stonily.

Kayla didn’t often come to the church where Kathy worked as the musical director. Kathy ran the choir and even wrote her own music for the church, which was a rather large congregation. Kayla rarely showed up there, but since it was mid-winter break from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, she was back home in Arlington, Washington to hang with her family and she decided to visit her sister this Sunday.

Kathy was nearly the polar opposite